It’s no big secret the Bears are in need of some help at the Outside Linebacker position. While they do have a couple young intriguing players to develop in Kylie Fitts and Isaiah Irving they could use even more fire power to increase the possibility of success off the Edge. Below are players I identified from other teams rosters while also reading some blogs and pieces from local scribes to get a pulse of who may be in danger of getting cut. I also kept it to younger players mainly 26 and under who have high upside and coachability that fit the Bears player profile and timeline of this current rebuild. Think in terms of drafting low round picks &/or signing undrafted Free Agents who need some development.
Nate Orchard: Cleveland is assembling themselves quite a roster and the Edge Rusher group is a very deep one for them. Orchard is a versatile player who can play the Edge in a 3-4 or play End in a 4-3. Since the Bears run a hybrid defense they play a form of both a 30 and a 40 front even though they run a 3-4 base. Orchard was a player I liked coming out of the draft and was the 51st player selected in the 2015 draft. He has good measureables although not elite. He sustained a season ending injury in 2016 and had a mixed result laden 2017 which puts him on the cut list probability.
Chad Thomas: Yet another possible Cleveland cut. There are three that can possibly get their walking papers from Cleveland. The other I’ll get to next. Thomas is a big kid with more of a frame to play End in a 40 front but has the chops to also rush off the Edge. Coming out of Miami many scouts thought he could be a better pro than collegiate player, but most also saw him as a boom or bust player. If he can get the right coaching he may be able to develop into a good rotational player. Thomas was this seasons third round pick for the Browns but they are so stocked he may be expendable. Especially with fifth rounder Genard Avery having a great camp and preseason for the Browns.
Carl Nassib: The former 65th overall pick in the 2016 draft is also in jeopardy of getting cut because of the numbers crunch. Another player I liked coming out of Penn State. He has very good size which offers some flexibility as he can play all along the Defensive Line as well as off the edge. Nassib could be a nice add should he find himself on the waiver wire come cutdown day.
Marcus Rush: This may be a name to keep an eye out for. Rush is an under the radar player who has some real nice measureables. Particularly his 3 cone score which was elite at 6.75 at the combine in 2015. Rush was also on the Kansas City practice squad in 2017 so Matt Nagy should be familiar with him. The Bears also had a close look at him at practice when they scrimmaged with the Broncos as well as their second preseason game with Denver.
Jeff Holland: Holland was a guy I really liked in this past draft and thought the Bears should invest a late pick in. Some had him projected as a mid round pick including NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein who had him projected in the 4th or 5th round. He went undrafted which surprised me and Denver scooped him up. He may be caught in a roster crunch and get cut. Most assuredly Denver will try to sign him to their practice squad should he pass through waivers but if I’m the Bears I make them very disappointed. The Bears had a close up look at him just like with Rush so he may be on the Bears radar.
Lorenzo Mauldin: The former 81st overall pick in the 2015 draft missed all of 2017 with a season ending injury and finds himself on the roster bubble with the Jets. He’s a max effort kid with high football character and may be someone who can be salvaged by the Bears under Vic Fangio‘s guidance. He has ideal size for a 3-4 Edge and pretty good measureables to boot.
Tyrone Holmes: Holmes is an athletically gifted Edge Rusher who could be a nice pickup for the Bears. A former 2016 6th round pick of Kansas City’s and a likely cut, as well as, someone Nagy and the Bears may have on their radar. He killed his pro day running a 4.58 40, jumping a 37.5″ vertical and running a 7 flat 3 cone which would have had him ranked 4th best at the 2016 combine had he attended. He’s unproven at the pro level but has some intriguing traits and an 18 sack season at Montana.
Myles Humphrey: Humphrey is a sure cut and a candidate for the Ravens practice squad. Has draft related workout measureables so he may have had an injury. His production at Shepherd is off the charts. Had 8.5 sacks as a Freshman, 5 as a sophomore 13.5 as a junior and 13 as a senior in 2017. He has good size for the Edge. A little shorter at 6’2″ than you’d like but is a solid 245.
Greer Martini: This undrafted player out of Notre Dame is a sure cut from the Packers and he is listed as an inside linebacker but has enough size ( 6’3″ 232) and measureables (6.90 3-cone/4.81 40) to possibly project him over at OLB. He may need more weight on his frame and might be more of a developmental talent but it’s a name that may cross the waiver wire and a possible Bears pick up. There is some projectable raw skill there.
Kendall Donnerson: Hailing from small school Southeast Missouri State this kid was so impressive with his draft workout numbers at his pro day that the Packers decided to use their 7th round pick on this relatively unknown player. A lot of the blogging community for the Packers already have him penciled in as making the roster but I am not so sure. While his athletic scores are spectacular (At 250 pounds he posted a 4.48-second 40-yard dash, 40-inch vertical, 10-foot-11 broad jump and 7.03 three-cone) his production against small school competition and his tape is less than spectacular. He had some good production but for a kid with that type of physical talent he should have been more dominant against his level of competition. So this tells me he may very well be tried to get snuck through waivers and put on the Packers practice squad. Could be an interesting developmental player should he get waived.
Peter Kalambayi: The Texans are absolutely loaded in the front 7 and deep as all get out at the Linebacker position both inside and out. This will likely make Kalambayi expendable even though he was an actual draft pick albeit a late one in the 6th round. Kalambayi actually is an intriguing player. There’s a reason he was drafted. Kalambayi has perfect size for an Edge defender (6’3″ 252) and the athletic profile to go with it too (4.57 40, 34″vert., 10’1″ b.J., 7.13 3-cone, 4.36 S.S.). He hasn’t yet reached the potential of that ability with the Stanford Cardinals but did put up some nice production as a rotational Edge Rusher.
Avery Moss: Moss brings great size at the Edge Linebacker spot. 6’3″ 265 with long 34 1/2″ arms and 10 3/8″ hands. He’s in a battle for a roster spot with the Giants and may be a cut casualty. He bring good athleticism and some projectable ceiling with him and could be developed into a productive NFL rotational Edge Defender Particularly as a Nickel down pass rusher.
Romeo Akwara: Akwara might have the advantage on Moss from what I’ve been reading on the web. It’ll be either one of these two big long limbed Edge defenders that gets cut. Both are eligible for the practice squad so the Giants may want whichever gets cut back if they go unclaimed. As I said Akwara has good size (6’5″ 265 10 1/8″ hands) and length (34 1/8″ arms). Although not an elite athlete he’s still got pretty good combine scores for a bigger Edge Defender out of nearby Notre dame. A player the Bears should be very familiar with.
Keion Adams: One of the very last players to be chosen in the 2017 draft as he was the 30th pick in the 7th round for the Steelers and has been impressive and may survive a second year on the bubble. If not he can be an interesting pickup for the Bears. He had good production at Western Michigan and brings with him intriguing size and athleticism off the Edge. He was a three sport athlete in high school and has excellent foot quickness as a former basketball player.
Farrington Huguenin: Huguenin is a converted D-Linemen who lost weight and was developed as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme. He brings very good size (6’4″ 268) and some real impressive athletic scores from his pro day in 2016 (40-yard dash: 4.82 seconds, Vertical: 34 inches, Broad jump: 10 feet, 2 inches, Short shuttle: 4.37 seconds, 3-cone: 7.29 seconds, Bench: 25 reps of 225 pounds) Should be a roster cut and available.
Olasunkanmi Adeniyi: Adeniyi is a little on the smallish size (6’1″ 245) and less than ideal length (31 3/4″ arms) for an edge defender but has some real athleticism that make him hard to block off the edge. He’s also very good with his hand and plays with max effort and takes no down for granted. A player that may be a hard cut for a coach like Mike Tomlin but you can’t keep em all. The Steelers depth at the Edge position may be the Bears gain.
Josh Carraway: The former 2017 7th round pick for the Titans has good Edge Defender size (6’3″ 242) and ideal length 10 3/4″ arms. He also has plenty of quick twitch to his game with some good bend off the Edge. He also had very good production at TCU for the Horned Frogs football team. He might be a hard player for the Titans to part with but they are in a numbers crunch as they have a glut of linebackers. Some people are predicting them carrying up to 10 Linebackers but that would be an unusually high number even for a 3-4 team.
Aaron Wallace: Wallace has athleticism for days. His 2016 Pro Day numbers are impressive (40-yard dash: 4.57 seconds, Vertical: 36 inches, Broad jump: 10 feet, 10, inches, Short shuttle: 4.27 seconds, 3-cone: 7.35 seconds, Bench: 25 reps of 225 pounds. He could be yet another hard but necessary cut for the Titans.
Sharif Finch: Finch may not even be considered a cut possibility as he has apparently impressed in camp and preseason as an undrafted Free Agent showing off the ability to get after the passer. He has good size at 6’5″ 250 with long arms and ideal athleticism for an Edge Rusher (4.65 40, 31 VJ, 9-9 BJ, 4.45 ss, 7.00 cone, 23 lifts).
Dadi Nicolas: The former 2016 6th round pick of Kansas City’s appears to be on the short list of cuts for Washington. Nicholas has about as much athleticism you can possibly hope for. His 2016 combine numbers are insane (4.74 40, 41″ vert., 7.04 3-cone, 4.38 S.S.). He does lack the typical size (6’3″ 235) and strength (14 B.P. reps) but has great length (34 3/8″ arms) and uses it well. He could be useful as a nickel down player off the Edge or even in the middle as a blitzer for Vic Fangio.
Also, keep in mind some familiar names may end up being back on the team and find their way on to the final 53 man roster like Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Cornelius Washington, and Howard Jones.
While there is a reason these players will be getting cut they all offer the tools to be productive under the development of a top defensive staff like that of the Bears. I chose younger players who fit in with the timeline of this team. It’ll be interesting to which one of these names if any gets cut and picked up by the Bears.