Kurt Warner. James Harrison. Dick “Night Train” Lane. Antonio Gates.
Over the years, there have been several undrafted free agents who have left indelible marks on the game of football. Despite not being seen as worthy enough of an NFL Draft selection, these players have overcome the odds and have gone on to become successful NFL players.
Over the past few weeks, I have looked at 10 of the undrafted free agents that the Chicago Bears signed this offseason to try and determine who stands the best chance of making it to the 53-man roster. We’ve made it to the final player on the list - the No. 1 undrafted free agent - and that player is LSU alumnus Kevin Toliver.
Toliver entered LSU as one of the best high school prospects in the nation. He committed to the Tigers after his sophomore year in 2012, and managed to stand out for the remainder of his high school career. The five-star recruit finished his freshman year in college with 35 tackles, one interception and five pass deflections. Toliver suffered from multiple injuries in 2016 which caused him to only play in six games. He finished up his collegiate career in 2017 with 27 tackles, one sack, one interception, ten passes deflected and a forced fumble. He opted to skip his senior season and declared for the 2018 NFL Draft in early January.
There are multiple cut-ups of Toliver online, including this one from his outing against Florida last season. One can also look for cut-ups of teammate Donte Jackson and find Toliver on the field, as well.
The first thing that stands out about Toliver is his size. At six-foot-two and 192 pounds, he is long, well-proportioned and has a pro-ready frame. His lengthy frame and long arms come in handy when breaking up passes, as he can often reach for passes that most wide receivers can’t grab. He’s a very good athlete for his size, as he has good straight-line speed, closing speed and hip fluidity. Toliver is also a solid tackler who takes good angles to the ball carrier. He’s the type of player whom Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and defensive backs coach Ed Donatell can mold into a contributor.
A lot of Toliver’s question marks come from an off-the-field standpoint. Throughout his tenure at LSU, he suffered a rotator cuff injury and a knee injury which affected his play as a freshman and caused him to miss roughly half of his sophomore year. He also was suspended in 2016 for missing team meetings, and his NFL Draft profile states that former coaches have said that his attitude and drive to succeed are both a problem. On the field, his ball skills aren’t very impressive, he can't shed blocks well, and he lacks quickness coming out his breaks, which can lead to receivers creating separation.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
It really is a testament to how much the Bears have improved over the years that arguably their best undrafted free agent faces an uphill battle to make it onto the 53-man roster.
Toliver is a talented prospect who has all of the physical tools to be a very good player at the next level. He isn’t a finished product just yet, and he has a lot of work to do to prove that he can become the player that many believed he could be when he came out of high school. Players like Marcus Cooper and Sherrick McManis will be tough obstacles for Toliver to overcome, and fellow undrafted rookies Michael Joseph and Rashard Fant will surely give him a fight, as well. That said, though, Toliver has the highest ceiling of the bunch, so there is a solid chance that he could end up sneaking onto the 53-man roster come September.
Jacob Infante is a Chicago Bears writer at SB Nation’s Windy City Gridiron. He is also an NFL Draft writer at USA Today SMG’s Draft Wire. He can be reached through Twitter @jacobinfante24 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.