Bears seek hidden gems in draft’s final rounds

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Sixth-round draft choice, Kansas State CB Duke Shelley, will try to crack the Bears defensive back rotation.

With just five overall draft picks in the 2019 NFL Draft, and few glaring needs, the Chicago Bears looked to fill niche roles on the roster with their final three picks.

Sixth-round CB Duke Shelley of Kansas State didn’t show up in many mock drafts, partly due to a toe injury that curtailed his final season in Manhattan. However, now that Shelley has fully recovered, he turned in an impressive pro day workout that backed up some impressive tape. Though undersized at 5’9″, he’s an instinctive and aggressive defender with sticky coverage skills and a knack for the endzone. Shelley competes on every play ran his direction and is crafty enough to undercut routes. In Chicago, he’ll try and stick on the roster as a rotational defensive back and possibly groomed to play slot corner or nickel back, a role previously held by the departed Bryce Callahan.

The two seventh-round choices, Florida Atlantic RB Kerrith Whyte and Valdosta State CB Stephen Denmark fit the prototypical size/speed/production boxes. Whyte gained 866-yards on the ground in a supplementary role to starter and fellow NFL draft pick Devin Singletary. Whyte’s best on outside runs or draws where he has an initial crack and can accelerate. His opportunity might be as a return man, something he was quite accomplished at with the Owls where he averaged over 28-yards per kickoff return and scored a touchdown.

As for Denmark, he’s green as grass in the secondary, having played three years as a receiver before making a position switch. However, his intriguing physical skills made the Bears believe he’s someone worth investing in developing. “Stephen Denmark has ridiculous measurables,” remarked Chicago General Manager Ryan Pace. “He’s relatively new to the position—only one year at corner after switching from receiver—so a guy we feel has tremendous upside ahead of him and a guy that our defensive coaches, our special-teams coaches and our scouts were equally excited about, just working with that upside and the talent that he has.”

Extra Points: Immediately following the draft, the Bears coaches and scouting staff went to work adding undrafted free agents to the roster. Here’s the list to date with some of these players invited to next weekend’s rookie mini-camp on a tryout basis.

-Dax Raymond, TE, Utah State

-Chuck Harris, Edge, Buffalo

-John Baron, K, San Diego State

-Emmanuel Hall, WR, Missouri

-Clifton Duck, CB, Appalachian State

-Alex Bars, OL, Notre Dame

-Sam Mustipher, OL< Notre Dame

Jonathan Harris, DL, Lindenwood

Mathieu Betts, Edge, Laval

Tommy Doles, OL, Northwestern

Joe Lowery, OL, Ohio

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Blake Blackmar, OL, Baylor

Marquez Tucker, OL, South

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ern Utah

Ellis Richardson, TE, Georgia Southern

John Yarbrough, OL, Richmond

Lawrence Marshall, DL, Michigan

Chris James, RB, Wisconsin

Thomas Ives, WR, Colgate

Spencer Schnell, WR, Illinois State

Ron’quavion Tarver, WR, Utah State

Joe Walker, WR, Delaware

Quentin Moon, LB, Western Illino

Joshua Simmons, CB, Limestone

Doyin Jibowu, S, Fort Hays State

Adarius Pickett, S, UCLA

Jordan Powell, S, Widener

Emmit Carpenter, K, Minnesota

Alex Kjellsten, K, McNeese StateL

John Wirtel, LS, Kansas

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