Joe Gaither

The Bears Brawl Writer and contributor

The Chicago Bears will open rookie minicamp May 3-5, it will be the first chance coaches will get to see the five players they drafted in action.  In addition to the draftees, the Bears will be bringing in 41 other prospects to compete as undrafted free agents. Let’s take a look at who could make it onto the 53-man roster once the year begins.

Emanuel Hall is a speedy receiver out of Missouri, he led the SEC in yards per reception in both 2017 (24.8 on 33 receptions) and 2018 (22.4 on 37 grabs). The 6’2” receiver ran a 4.39 40-yard dash and set a wide receiver record broad-jump of 11’9” at the combine in March.

Hall has a chance to make the Bears roster and become another weapon in the Matt Nagy system. With all that speed, why did Hall slip in the draft?

Hall has a checkered injury history and dealing with a hamstring injury in 2017, a nagging groin injury caused him to miss time in 2018 and it’s believed he suffered a sports hernia at the combine in March. There is also concern about his physicality at the line of scrimmage and the depth of his route tree.

Hall led the Tigers in receiving yards (828) and touchdowns (6) in 2018 despite only playing in eight games, Missouri was 7-0 in games in which he was 100% healthy, and 1-5 in games he missed or was hindered by the groin injury.

Hall showed proficiency utilizing his speed in college to his advantage, but will need to develop as a route runner to become anything more than a deep-ball threat.

Should Hall prove healthy over the course of the offseason, he could make for an interesting gadget piece for Nagy to utilize to put a strain on defenses.

Hall will have a tough road to make the roster as Nagy has indicated the Bears will likely keep six receivers on the roster. Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, Cordarrelle Patterson and Riley Ridley are locks to make the team, therefore Hall will likely have to learn and embrace playing on special teams to cut his teeth in the league. Hall did not play special teams in college, though his elite speed could translate well for covering kicks.

At only 21-years old, Hall could be a good in-house option for the Bears in 2020 if they decide they cannot resign Taylor Gabriel to a new contract as his current deal expires at the end of 2019. Hall is a player to watch as the preseason unfolds.

Casey Bednarski is a kicker and punter from Minnesota State University-Mankato. Bednarski, the converted soccer player and a self taught kicker will be one of five kickers competing in the rookie minicamp this week.

Bednarski spent two years at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois before transferring to Minnesota State University-Mankato. In two seasons with the Mavericks, Bednarski hit on 40-of-50 field goals with a career long of 63-yards, he connected on 119 PATs and had 81 touchbacks on 183 kickoffs. Additionally Bednarski handled the punting duties, averaging 39.7 yards on his 102 punts.

A powerful and versatile leg, Bednarski brings an interesting element to the Bears kicking competition. The Bears will likely choose a kicker who can handle both field goals and kickoffs, and the ability to step in and punt in case of emergency is added bonus for Bednarski.

General Manager Ryan Pace has stated how much he values power in a kicker and Bednarski has plenty. He didn’t just kick a 63-yard field goal in a game, but also posted a video of himself booming a 70-yard field goal in workout followed by a back flip.

Bednarski studied kicking by watching NFL kickers on YouTube and emulating what he saw, with limited opportunities coming out of high school he has worked hard to get to this point. He wears a bracelet with the words, “Be Mentally Strong” to continue to push to reach his dreams.

Bednarski will compete with four other kickers at this weekend’s minicamp and despite not being drafted his confidence remains high.

A young, hungry, cold weather kicker with a powerful leg and a versatile skill-set Bednarski offers an intriguing solution to a position that has plagued the Bears since Robbie Gould’s departure.

There are still 18 weeks until the Bears season opener but Emanuel Hall and Casey Bednarski are two players to monitor as rosters are shaped throughout the league.