3 Small-School Steals the Bears Can Draft in Late Rounds

Could the Chicago Bears target some possible small-school stars in the 2024 NFL Draft?
Chicago Bears
Chicago Bears / Quinn Harris/GettyImages
2 of 2

2. Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire

One of the favorite small-school players among NFL Draft enthusiasts this year is New Hampshire's Dylan Laube, a jack-of-all trades whose usage at the college level is reminiscent of Christian McCaffrey at Stanford.

Multiple times at New Hampshire, Laube was named an All-American including his freshman and senior seasons. In both his junior and senior seasons, Laube scored a touchdown as a running back, receiver, kickoff returner, and punt returner.

He's electric with the ball in his hands and clearly was a dominant player at a lower level of competition. But Laube held his own and proved he belonged with the higher level of competition. His abilities as an every-down back are fascinating, even with the Chicago Bears already having an intriguing backfield among at least the top three on the depth chart (D'Andre Swift, Khalil Herbert, Roschon Johnson).

A player like Laube will get a boost in value this year thanks to the NFL's new kickoff return rules. Players like him might have been devalued in prior years, but having multiple assets in the return game is now mission critical for NFL teams.

Laube took a top-30 visit to the Bears' facility already and could potentially be the team's pick in the 4th round, or if they somehow find a way to move back and acquire additional Day 3 capital.

3. Tavion McCarthy, CB, Mercer

Alright Bears fans, you want a true NFL Draft sleeper?

Here you go. You won't find a more ideal sleeper prospect than Tavion McCarthy, a prospect out of Mercer who is destined to become a slot player and special teams ace at the NFL level.

Listed at 5-foot-9 and about 190 pounds or so, McCarthy had an outstanding pro day that has caused a lot of people -- including the Chicago Bears -- to flip on the tape and see if he's got some serious NFL chops. He ran a 4.53 in the 40-yard dash, which isn't crazy, but he posted a 44-inch vertical jump and 11'1" broad jump. He also threw up 23 bench press reps at 225 pounds.

This guy is fascinating, and although he doesn't have great long speed, he translates his strength and explosiveness into aggressive play and strong tackling abilities.

He's almost undoubtedly going to go undrafted, so the Bears will have to hope to get him among that frenzy after the draft is over. Even after that, he's probably going to need a year at the NFL level on a practice squad to learn the nickel position after playing outside corner at the collegiate level. But don't be surprised if, down the line, this guy is stealing snaps somehow in the slot or playing a dime defensive back role while also playing special teams.

More Bears coverage: