Chicago Bears Roster Moves – Week 11
The big news for the Chicago Bears this week was placing Pro Bowl G Kyle Long on injured reserve which ended his season. It’s a huge loss for a Bears o-line that has made a lot of progress this year. The offensive line still should be a strength next season with the starting five all likely to come back, the return of Hroniss Grasu from injury, and the hopeful improvement of some young backups like RT Mike Adams, G/C Eric Kush, and C/G Cornelius Edison, who was activated to the Bears roster this week.
Edison won the Rimington Award for the best FBS center back in 2014 and has bided his time on the Bears practice squad since signing as an undrafted free agent before the 2015 season.
He’s not overpowering off the ball, but at 6’3, 305 pounds, Edison has NFL size. He lacks ideal feet for the Bears zone-blocking scheme but has good power in the trenches as a run blocker. Edison also has experience at both guard and center, giving the Bears a versatile back-up who can play wherever he’s needed on the interior line.
The Bears replaced Edison on the practice squad with another interior lineman and an interesting one in G Cyril Richardson. Coming into the 2014 NFL Draft season, Richardson was one of the top rated offensive linemen and the general consensus was that the former All-American (2013) would be a day two pick.
Unfortunately for Richardson, he had a really bad Senior Bowl where he was destroyed by both Aaron Donald and current Bear Will Sutton. He followed that up with a bad combine, where he looked stiff and slow in pass protection drills.
Richardson’s rough draft season dropped him all the way to the 5th round, where he was selected by the Bills. During his rookie year, he was forced into the starting lineup due to injury and struggled in four starts. His worst game earned a -10.4 grade from Pro Football Focus which is one of the worst one-game scores I’ve ever seen.
Richardson spent 2015 on the Bills practice squad before being released earlier this season. The Bears signed him to their practice squad this week and the potential is still there for Richardson to be an impact NFL player.
He’s a massive human at 6’5, 340 pounds and uses his size well to be a mauler in the run game. Richardson’s calling card is his run blocking ability and if he can keep his weight at a moveable level, he could be a force inside. He also has a good set up in pass pro but struggles with speed rushers due to a lack of lateral foot speed.
This is a high-upside / low-floor type signing for the Bears as Richardson (25 years old) could still develop into a starting caliber guard, but could also be out of the league in a year or two if he can’t control his weight. Here is what a couple of experts had to say about Richardson before the 2014 draft:
“Richardson plays a very physical brand of football in a Baylor offense that is often identified as a ‘finesse’ system. He weighs more than 340 pounds and uses that size and power to maul defenders in the run game. He has unbelievably strong hands to torque and turn defenders at the point of attack. Richardson also does a nice job of running his feet after his initial contact, which allows him to create a lot of movement at the line of scrimmage. He has a very firm, powerful base in pass protection.”
“Richardson has talent. He is just too heavy. If he can get his weight down to about 320, he has a chance to be a starter in the NFL. He flashes being able to do all the things required to be a winning guard in the league, but to be a consistent player and play to that level, he needs to have more mental discipline and control his weight.”
The Bears made a few other moves to bolster the offense including activating WR Marquess Wilson from the physically unable to perform list and signing QB Josh Woodrum to the practice squad. The Bears didn’t have a development quarterback on the roster unless you considered the 26-year-old Matt Barkley one, but they might now in Woodrum, a rookie out of Liberty college.
Woodrum has NFL size at 6’3, 231 pounds and enough arm strength to make all the necessary throws. While he went undrafted coming out of Liberty this year, plenty of sites had him graded as a late day three pick. In addition to his size and arm strength, Woodrum also handles pressure well with good feet in the pocket and the toughness to take hits in order to make the right pass.
While there are some legit NFL traits there, Woodrum has some significant question marks as well. His mechanics are messy, including an odd, downward-plane throwing motion that results in too many balls bounced in front of receivers. Woodrum also struggled to progress through reads in college, despite starting for four years. Lastly, his accuracy and timing are below average.
If Woodrum’s first or second read is open, he can get them the ball on target and with some serious zip on it. It’s when his first few reads are taken away and Woodrum has to improvise that his flaws start to manifest. With a little development time, Woodrum could become a viable NFL QB, though probably a backup.
While most of the Bears roster moves this week were on the offensive side of the ball, they did make one addition to the defense by signing journeyman DT C.J. Wilson. In his six-year career, Wilson has been on four NFL teams, including the Bears earlier this season.
The loss of DT Will Sutton to injured reserve this week and the uncertainty about Eddie Goldman’s availability forced the Bears to add some depth on the d-line. Despite bouncing around the league, Wilson has been productive when given a chance to play with 111 tackles, 6.5 sacks, and 15 tackles for loss. He should be able to hold his own in the middle of a recently dominant Bears front seven.
Hopefully, some of the young players added this week will pan out for the Bears and the additions of Marquess and C.J. Wilson to the active roster will help fill some of the void left by the loss of Alshon Jeffery, Will Sutton, and possibly Eddie Goldman this week. It can’t get any worse than last week, right?
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