Chicago Bears: Dax Raymond is what team has lacked at tight end

Chicago Bears (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Bears could be getting a gem in undrafted free agent Dax Raymond.

When the Chicago Bears drafted tight end Adam Shaheen in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, you could see the attraction. In both stature and playing style, Shaheen, in many ways, resembled Rob Gronkowski, the recently retired superstar tight end for the New England Patriots.

Shaheen, the 6-foot-6, 270 pounder out of Ashland College seemed like the perfect weapon for newly drafted Mitchell Trubisky, whom the Bears selected one round earlier. Giving Trubisky a huge target, with an enormous catching radius, like Shaheen seemed like a no-brainer.

However, Shaheen has been unable to stay healthy and on the field, making it difficult for him to get into any kind of rhythm. He’s only played 19 games in two years, and only six last season. Just before he injured himself in Week 6, he showed flashes, albeit few and far between, of why Ryan Pace drafted him. Unfortunately, it has not been enough.

In steps Dax Raymond, whom the Bears signed as an undrafted free agent after this year’s draft. In many ways, the 6-foot-4, 245-pound Raymond represents what the Bears hoped Shaheen would be by now.

He’s big, strong, and can run like a wide receiver. What is most appealing about Raymond though, is his versatility. Whereas Shaheen plays the “Y” tight end role (or the traditional in-line tight end), Raymond can play the “Y” but also the “U” tight end role, which is primarily a pass-catching tight end role.

Why is that important? Because Trey Burton currently plays the “U” and while he had a fine season, there were some questions marks around his availability in the playoff game. That aside, the Bears would have certainly liked more production out of Burton, who always seemed poised to breakout, but never did.

With Raymond possessing the ability to play both positions, he doubles his chances of getting invaluable experience this season. He can fill in for both Burton and Shaheen. In addition, with Ben Braunecker the only other tight end on the roster, and Shaheen’s durability issues, it is not hard to imagine Raymond as a starter in short order.

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That wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world if it did happen. He’s more talented than Braunecker and could create the mismatches they had hoped Shaheen would create on a weekly basis. The one thing that will certainly limit his playing time and that is his ability to learn the playbook. However, if he’s able to master that, don’t be surprised to see him as a starter just after Week 6 following the Bye.