Last season, the Chicago Bears hit a home run with undrafted free agent Jack Sanborn. Following the 2023 NFL Draft class, the Bears are once again looking for a gem in their UDFA class.
Sanborn signed with the Bears after a productive career at Wisconsin. As a rookie, Sanborn managed to appear in 14 games for Chicago, starting 6. He made 64 tackles, five for a loss, two sacks and a fumble recovery.
The linebacker showed the power of a breakout UDFA. While they aren’t as heralded as players who were drafted, they could still make a difference at the NFL. Chicago knows there is still value to be found after the NFL Draft.
The Bears signed 14 undrafted free agents after the 2023 NFL Draft. Of them all, former LSU linebacker Micah Baskerville has the best chance of making Chicago’s roster.
Going undrafted doesn’t mean a player doesn’t have ample playing experience. That is true of Baskerville, who appeared in 54 games for LSU, starting 30 of them. His experience should help as he looks to get acclimated to the NFL.
With the Tigers, Baskerville racked up 260 tackles, 22.5 for a loss, 12 passes defended, four sacks and two interceptions. His 89 tackles in 2022 led LSU’s defense. He was a member of the Tigers’ 2019 National Championship team.
Baskerville clearly has a nose for getting to the runner. He has shined both against the run and against the pass. Between his versatile play and his overall experience, Baskerville has two traits necessary for a UDFA to make any final roster.
Chicago spent big at linebacker this offseason bringing in both Tremaine Edmunds and TJ Edwards. While those two, alongside Sanborn, will likely be the Bears’ starters, there is still room for Baskerville.
The Bears drafted fellow linebacker Noah Sewell in the fifth-round of the 2023 NFL Draft. His draft capital likely keeps him a lock next to Edmunds, Edwards and Sanborn. However, there isn’t much depth behind those four, leaving room for Baskerville to steal a roster spot.
Players like Dylan Cole, Kuony Deng and Terrell Lewis don’t spark much excitement in Chicago. While Baskerville comes in with an UDFA pedigree, he has the potential to open up the Bears’ eyes.
Baskerville Bears bonanza
While the Bears took offensive lineman Darnell Wright with their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, defense is a clear area of need for Chicago. The Bears need major help on the defensive side of the ball, which Baskerville can provide.
The Bears finished last season ranked 29th in total defense, allowing 375.9 yards per game. Their run defense ranked 31st, allowing 157.3 YPG while their pass defense ranked 17th, allowing 218.6 YPG. Baskerville’s versatile play could help the Bears in both areas of their game. His impressive overall tackling ability would give the Bears a much more consistent defense.
Of course, every undrafted free agent won’t be Jack Sanborn. The fact they went undrafted limits their immediate starting ability. However, if one team knows how to develop an UDFA linebacker, it’s the Bears.
Micah Baskerville’s game might be different from Sanborn’s, but he’s the type of defensive player the Bears are desperate for. He’s a seasoned veteran who knows what it takes to win a championship. After going undrafted, Baskerville will prove the doubters wrong when he makes the Bears final roster heading into the 2023 season.