3 Undrafted Free Agents Who Can Make the Bears' 53-Man Roster

Sep 10, 2022; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini defensive lineman Keith Randolph
Sep 10, 2022; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini defensive lineman Keith Randolph / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Bears entered the draft with 67 out of 90 players on their roster filled. During the draft, they added five more players, bringing their roster up to 72. However, the team still had plenty roster spots to fill for OTAs and minicamps, many of which have been filled by undrafted free agents in recent days.

Most undrafted free agents either end up on the practice squad or cut. However, there are a few cases where undrafted free agents at key positions have made the team's 53-man roster, like quarterback Tyson Bagent last season.

Let's take a look at a few of the Bears' 2024 undrafted free agent signings and assess their chances of making the 53-man roster. 

Keith Randolph Jr., DL

Keith Randolph Jr., out of the University of Illinois, is one of the many undrafted defensive linemen the Bears signed. Randolph Jr. spent five years at Illinois and was a starter for three years. In the three years Randolph Jr. started, he gathered 144 total tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks.

Randolph Jr. played at every position on the defensive line for Illinois proving to be a versatile weapon. However, most of his time at Illinois was spent as the team's 3-technique, which is a position the Bears need to improve in.

Randolph Jr. excels at getting of the line of scrimmage quickly with his swim/armover move.

If Randolph Jr. can produce a consist pass rush in preseason then there is no reason why he shouldn't earn a spot of the Bears 53-man roster.

Jamree Kromah, DL

Jamree Kromah is another potential undrafted defensive lineman who can make the Bears' 53-man roster. Kromah played for Rutgers for three seasons, and then he transferred to James Maddison.

At Rutgers, Kromah only played 10 games, totaling 18 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 0.5 sacks. His production picked up at James Maddison, as he played in 23 games, gathering 80 total tackles, 25 tackles for loss, and 13.5 sacks. 

Similar to Keith Randolph Jr., Kromah also played every position on the defensive line in college. However, according to Jacob Infante, Kromah's skills and build project him to fit best as a defensive tackle in the NFL.

Kromah blended his speed, power, and long arm reach of 35 1/4 inches to become the dangerous pass rusher he was at James Maddison. 

While Kromah has a decent skill set he will be in a battle to make the 53-man roster. That does not mean it's out of the question though.

Ian Wheeler, RB/KR

The final undrafted free agent who has a chance of making the Bears' 53-man roster is running back/ return specialist Ian Wheeler. Wheeler played five seasons at Howard University. In those five seasons, Wheller rushed for 1.154 yards and 12 touchdowns.

While those are fine stats, the Bears most likely signed Wheller for his return abilities. At Howard, Wheller gathered 1,321 return yards and three touchdowns on 52 kick returns. 

Adding Wheeler, who has shown he can be an explosive and reliable return man, is a smart move for the Bears. Before signing Wheeler, the Bears kick/punt return room consisted of Velus Jones Jr. and Dante Pettis.

Jones Jr.'s struggles as a returner have been well documented, and Pettis doesn't have the explosiveness to make him a dangerous returner.

The worst-case scenario for Wheeler is that he raises the level of competition in the return room, and it makes Jones Jr. better, meaning Wheeler would be cut. However, Wheeler could also prove to be the best returner in the room, which would secure him a spot on the team. Either outcome is a win for the Bears, who need a boost in the return game, especially with the new kick.

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