Kansas City Chiefs vs. Chicago Bears: Rookies Want a Shot
The grinding training camps for all 32 teams come to an end in the next week. By and large, the NFL Draft dominated the conversations after the Super Bowl. Additionally, The NFL Combine, mock drafts, free agent signings, and mini-camps all lead to August. Every year, 250 players get the luxury of hearing their names during the seven rounds of the NFL Draft. And that’s not including the compensatory picks. Still, after all the scouting reports are turned in, the work to bring in the best rookie players starts to heat up. Hundreds of undrafted free agents sign a deal with one of the 32 NFL teams.
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Against All Odds
Furthermore, there is a rookie camp including oodles of more inventory of rookies to search for the one player missed. In addition, the Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Bears hope to find that one or two diamonds in the rough. And this year the Chiefs rookies have a chance.
And it’s happened before, where one or two guys show a small sample of eye-catching moments leading to a camp invite. The 60-day gauntlet is brutal. Injuries can derail a career. Personal issues are not welcome. Knowing the plays is expected. Simply put, there can be nearly 1,000 rookies vying to make a 53-man roster in the next few weeks.
Of course, doing the addition on this adds up to nearly 2,000 spots including the practice squad but most are already taken.
Current New Orleans Saints offensive line coach Doug Marrone remembers coming into the league in 1986. Marrone’s coaching experience spans over 30 years including 20 in the NFL. Twice as a head coach, Marrone had this to say back in 2019.
“It really doesn’t matter why you are sitting here right now or how you got here,” Marrone said in the first meeting with rookies. “It’s an opportunity, and you never want to waste an opportunity to make a good impression. You are going to have opportunities. Take advantage of it, and leave the stuff you can’t control out.”
The Exceptions to the Rule
In a nutshell, many of the players fans see in the preseason will never even see a football field except for a bench on a sideline if lucky. These words are harsh. Ultimately, the numbers don’t lie.
Obviously, being drafted in the first couple of rounds nearly guarantees at least a one-year trial on a roster but past that, the odds go down remarkably. If a rookie is undrafted, the odds are as low as 1-2% depending on the year and team.
Now the good news. Surely, the Kurt Warner and Warren Moons exist in NFL lore. And on defense, the legendary defensive tackle John Randle from Minnesota defied the odds all the way to the Hall of Fame. And Chiefs Kingdom knows Priest Holmes for the Kansas City Chiefs.
But make no mistake, there is a lot on the line for rookies in these preseason games. Seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco knows even with his outstanding training camp — nothing is guaranteed. Another player cornerback Joshua Williams is even in more rare territory. Williams comes from a small school Fayetteville State, which is among the HBCU schools that face even longer odds to get noticed.
One Chance to Make an Impression on Coaches
The Chiefs also have four quarterbacks currently on their roster including a guy named Patrick Mahomes. Chad Henne is expected to be the backup. That leaves possibly one spot likely to be on the part of the practice squad. Undrafted rookie quarterback Dustin Crum faces an uphill battle facing another with more experience.
On the Bears side, there are some interesting names after the first and second rounds. Tennessee Volunteer standout wide receiver Velus Jones has also impressed coaches over in Chicago. He was drafted in the third round. Another intriguing prospect is an offensive lineman from Southern University. Another HBCU school rookie who will surely need to impress quickly.
And again, this is not counting the slew of undrafted free agents playing on Saturday.
Could it be one of the undrafted free agent rookies from the Chiefs: Linebackers Mike Rose or Jack Cochrane? Or perhaps Bears linebacker Jack Sanborn makes the team and plays spoiler? Someone will break out. It happens every year.