Our latest offseason WCG round table is all about the Chicago Bears undrafted free agent class of 2020, so if you missed who they signed here they are:
- Dieter Eiselen, Yale guard (6’4”, 310)
- Napoleon Maxwell, Florida International running back (6’, 215)
- Artavis Pierce, Oregon State running back (5’11”, 208)
- Badara Traore, LSU tackle (6’7”, 320)
- Ahmad Wagner, Kentucky receiver (6’5”, 234)
- Lee Autry, Mississippi State defensive tackle (6’2”, 305)
- Keandre Jones, Maryland linebacker (6’3”, 220)
- LaCale London, Western Illinois linebacker (6’5”, 280)
- Ledarius Mack, Buffalo linebacker (6’1”, 240)
- Trevon McSwain, Duke defensive tackle (6’6”, 285)
- Rashad Smith, Florida Atlantic linebacker (6’1”, 220)
For more on these players, including some highlight videos, click here.
Today we asked our staff this question; Which UDFAs have the best chance to make the 53-man roster, or at the very least, have a good chance to make the 12-man practice squad?
But before we get into that I wanted to clarify a popular misconception about the 2020 opening game rosters. Like some of you, I thought opening rosters were expanded to 55 this year, but the reality is that teams still need to get down to 53 players to open the season. Then each week teams can add an additional 2 players from their 12-man practice squad to create their 55-man roster for that week. Then on game day they can pick 48 players to suit up as long as one of them is an extra offensive lineman.
Each player called up from the practice squad can be sent back down twice a year without needing to go through waivers, which gives teams more flexibility in 2020.
For more on this you can check out the NFL CBA.
Now on to the UDFA we think has the best chance to stick around...
I think it’s going to be difficult for any of the undrafted free agents to make it onto the 53-man roster, simply because of the veterans the Bears already have as depth pieces at numerous positions. That said, I’m going to go with Florida Atlantic linebacker Rashad Smith. Chicago is woefully thin at inside linebacker outside of starters Roquan Smith and Dannt Trevathan, and neither Joel Iyiegbuniwe nor Josh Woods are proven defenders at the professional level.
For practice squad players, I really like the idea of developing Buffalo edge rusher Ledarius Mack on the practice squad, whether that be as an edge rusher or an off-ball linebacker. His athletic talents and his knack for getting to the passer give him some tools to work with as a guy who can potentially crack the active roster in a year or two.
Trevon McSwain (5-Tech, Duke) looks like he might have a bit of that Bilal Nichols magic in his game. He’s a big guy (6’5”) and plays with solid leverage. He can collapse the interior on occasion and that’s enough to work with a in backup defensive lineman. I could certainly see him ending up on the practice squad at the very least.
Ledarius Mack because he has the name cache and some decent traits at a premiere position. Even if it’s just the practice squad, it seems like there’s some upside (and bloodlines) that could make him a decent prospect.
Is none an acceptable answer? The Bears this offseason have shown a move towards signing veteran players as they try to push towards getting back into the postseason. The number of players north of 30 years of age shows they aren’t going to spend time developing UDFAs on the active roster this season.
I’ll just focus on one UDFA player and that’s defensive lineman Trevon McSwain. I saw some tape of the Duke prospect and liked what I saw. He has quick feet and isn’t afraid to get down and dirty in the trenches and showed he can play against high-level talent when he had a very strong game against Alabama. I could see McSwain making the practice squad this year and make the active squad in 2021.
Artavis Pierce out of Oregon State has a real shot at the #3 or #4 RB position this year. The young man is a player, and has far more upside than a Ryan Nall kind of a guy.
Unless he is absolutely awful, I expect Ledarius Mack to be on the practice squad. I’ve watched a lot of his tape, he’s quite explosive, there’s got to be some way we can work a guy like that into our scheme.
Sibling love wins again and again. In case you haven’t heard, and I’m sure you have, Khalil Mack’s brother is, for now, also a Bear. Ledarius Mack, another edge rusher who shined in key spots for Buffalo last year, should see a theoretical path to the bottom of Chicago’s depth chart. After the older Mack and Robert Quinn, the Bears have nothing on the edge and all bets are off.
I think all of the 11 signed UDFAs face a step hill to climb in order to make the final roster in September. With that being said, I think that running back Artavis Pierce out of Oregon State has the best chance due to a simple numbers game. The Bears will carry either three or four running backs on the final roster. As of right now, they have 5 names and I wouldn’t count Ryan Nall as anything close to locked in to one of those spots. I like Pierce’s fit the best.
Three names to me that seem most likely to make the practice squad is: Edge Ledarius Mack (Obvious Khalil Mack connection), defensive lineman Trevon McSwain and LB Rashad Smith.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter
Artravis Pierce out of Oregon State is a guy I think has a legitimate chance at earning a spot on the roster. He’s fairly explosive for a back his size, and where I expect David Montgomery to dominate the snaps percentage among all players in the backfield, Pierce would fit as a change-of-pace player to spell in on occasion.
Ledarius Mack would make a ton of sense as someone to stash on the practice squad. I can’t see him lining up at edge with his older brother anytime soon. A positional switch to ILB could be in the works and that’ll take quite a while to develop.
Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.
Pierce seems like a scheme fit for a guy that could be a surprise addition to the 53-man roster. There just isn’t a lot of competition on the roster with only 5 running backs currently signed, especially considering they opened the 2019 season with 4 at the position. If he can show the ability to pick up the blitz he has a good chance to stick.
I think Mack is a lock to make the practice squad, but it’s because of his special teams experience at Buffalo. If the Bears do need to call someone up from from the practice squad he’s likely coming up to play in the third phase, and Mack could do that as a rookie. I would love to see Dieter Eiselen do enough to stick around as well, because he plays the game with a nasty edge, and that’s how I like my offensive linemen.
Now it’s your turn... Which UDFAs do you think will stick around in 2020?