Khalil Mack's younger brother headlines this year's group of UDFAs
While the 2020 NFL Draft allowed the Chicago Bears to add talent to their roster, it was only the beginning of the process. The Bears didn't address all of their needs in April's draft, but they took a few fliers in undrafted free agency to potentially fill their remaining needs for the upcoming season. The Bears signed 11 UDFAs, but here are five that stand out.
Ledarius Mack, Edge, Buffalo
If the name and school sound familiar, they should. Ledarius is Khalil Mack's younger brother who's hoping to follow in his All-Pro sibling's footsteps. He got the first part down by playing his college ball at Buffalo, where Khalil is still the Bulls' all-time leader in sacks (28.5). Ledarius only played in 19 total games for the Bulls, but he made the most of his reps (40 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 9 sacks, 4 forced fumbles). Now he looks to team up with Khalil in the NFL.
The Bears are looking for extra depth on the edge behind the older Mack and Robert Quinn. Quinn was signed in free agency to replace the unproductive Leonard Floyd, and the rest of the outside linebackers in 2019 (Isaiah Irving, Aaron Lynch) only accounted for two sacks. Ledarius Mack will have to earn his roster spot and he'll primarily be used on special teams. But familial ties aside, the Bears are giving the younger Mack the chance to show he belongs on an NFL roster.
Artavis Pierce, RB, Oregon State
During his first two seasons with the Beavers, Pierce was teammates with Bears fullback Ryan Nall. Now he looks for a reunion in Chicago and the Bears are a little slim at the running back position outside of David Montgomery, Tarik Cohen, and Nall. Pierce showed plenty of versatility in college, so he could be used in a variety of roles (rushing, receiving, kick returning) similar to Cohen. Pierce recorded 3,307 all-purpose yards with 17 total touchdowns for Oregon State, and his ability to play special teams should increase his chances of making the final roster.
Napoleon Maxwell, RB, Florida International
Maxwell has similar traits to Artavis Pierce. And he overcame knee injuries earlier in his FIU career to post 2,619 all-purpose yards and 23 combined touchdowns. The Bears decided not to select a running back in this year's draft, so Maxwell and Pierce have been brought in to remedy that. The question now is how many backs does head coach Matt Nagy want on his active roster come September?
Rashad Smith, LB, Florida Atlantic
Inside linebacker wasn't a problem for the Bears last year. Even when Danny Trevethan got injured, Nick Kwiatkoski and Kevin Pierre-Louis filled in admirably alongside Roquan Smith. The only problem now is that Kwiatkoski and Pierre-Louis have found new homes in Las Vegas and Washington, respectively. The Bears brought in Barkevious Mingo during free agency, but he only made six tackles for Houston last season. Meanwhile, the other inside linebackers currently on the roster (Devante Bond, Joel Iyiegbuniwe, James Vaughters, Josh Woods) combined for 15 total tackles in 2019.
So now the Bears are doing their due diligence in shoring up the depth behind Roquan Smith (no relation) and Trevethan. This is where Rashad Smith hopes to come in, especially since the Bears opted not to draft a linebacker. He registered 302 tackles, 31 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, and six interceptions at FAU. He'll have a crowded depth chart to navigate, but the former Owl will get his chances.
Trevon McSwain, DT, Duke
The Bears' defensive line hit a snag last year when Akiem Hicks missed 11 games with a dislocated elbow. To top it off, the Bears lost Nick Williams in free agency and parted ways with Jonathan Bullard. The Bears opted not to take a designated defensive lineman in the draft, but McSwain could surprise everyone and snag a roster spot. He was productive for the Blue Devils (103 tackles, 14 TFLs, 8.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles), he has the ideal size (6-6, 285) to play in a 3-4 base, and, because of that, he can line up at either end or nose tackle. Expect to hear McSwain's name come up quite a bit during training camp.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of ubbulls.com)