According to ESPN, the Chicago Bears have one of the top “under-the-radar” players in the NFL on their roster.
ESPN recently ranked the top 25 under-the-radar players in the league and Bears cornerback Thomas Graham Jr made the list at No. 19.
Graham went right into the starting lineup at Oregon as a freshman and eventually started 39 games before opting out ahead of the 2020 season. He broke up 40 passes and intercepted another eight over three seasons. He has a tweener body type between outside and slot at 5-foot-10, 192 pounds, and his pro day workout was a fairly big disappointment without a real standout result. This slid him all the way into the sixth round for the Bears.
Active as Chicago played out the string, Graham started in Week 15 against the Vikings and played major snaps in Week 16 versus the Seahawks. It’s not much of a sample size, and he allowed a 41-yard touchdown catch to DK Metcalf (who among us hasn’t?), but he held his other six targets to one catch for 10 yards.
With the great purge that was the Chicago roster this offseason, Graham has a real starting shot. All he has to do is beat out veteran Tavon Young to be the team’s starting nickelback.
Graham was selected in the sixth round (No. 228 overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Bears.
The former Oregon standout was signed to Chicago’s practice squad early last season and eventually made his debut late in the season. Graham totaled seven tackles and three passes defended in his first NFL game (a loss to the Minnesota Vikings).
Graham played the final four games of the season for the Bears as a rookie last year, but he saw his snap count decrease as the season came to an end.
The second-year cornerback certainly has the drive to be an NFL starter. He’s a bit undersized, but he could excel as a slot cornerback.
There’s certainly plenty of opportunity in Chicago this season for young players to make some noise. If Graham takes advantage of that opportunity, he could earn a key role with the Bears moving forward.
Featured image via David Banks-USA TODAY Sports