The new look Chicago Bears have preached position versatility. Undrafted Free Agent Ryan Nall should fit right in
One of the more notable names from the Chicago Bears weekend of signing Undrafted Free Agents to the roster was Ryan Nall, a running back from Oregon State. However, with the increased position versatility being preached by Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy on offense, combined with the tape of Nall, it is tough to pin him down exactly as a running back.
Nall played the H-back role at Oregon State and played some running back and fullback. As Lance Zierlein of NFL.com notes, NFL teams are considering him at full back in the NFL.
Nall is a “get what’s blocked” runner who struggles to access the agility or burst needed to work outside the tackles. Nall does offer a fairly decisive downhill option with good vision who sees the hole and will hit it without dancing. Once he gets up a head of steam, Nall is able to finish with some power, but gaining the head of steam is challenging for him at times. Nall may offer some short yardage potential, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see a team try and convert him to a fullback or H-back in the pros.When looking at the Chicago Bears depth chart you start to wonder if a path to the roster is easier for him than even a player such as Javon Wims. Behind Jordan Howard is Tarik Cohen, Benny Cunningham and Taquan Mizzel. Cunningham and Cohen are almost ensured to make the roster. Still, thinking of the three behind Howard you wonder what the team would do in power, and short yardage situations if he were to get hurt. Cohen, and Mizzel are small and while Cunningham is bigger than those two, he is much better in a shot gun, pass catching spot. The team is missing depth in the short yardage back role. Then you look at their full back situation. All they have is Michael Burton. Burton played 179 offensive snaps for the Chicago Bears last season. While it was nothing he did on tape that makes him cuttable, nothing he did on tape makes him worth keeping either.
Burton had four rushes and two receptions. He is not an option to pass or run. The Bears waste one of their five skill position players on a player who helps identify what the team is preparing to do on that particular play. Michael Burton is an old school, John Fox, here comes the run player.
Ryan Nall is today’s Michael Burton role. He is not quite as reliable as a blocker, yet. Still, he can take the dive from the full back spot. He can block, he can flare out for passes, and he can step back into the tailback spot, allowing one of those pass catching backs to motion into the slot.
He does not even need to be a much better player than Michael Burton to provide schematic versatility that is worth a roster spot over Burton. On top of that, Nall could make a player such as Mizzel expendable. What is a diet Cohen needed for? Cunningham is a pass catcher, Nall is a power back and they can back up Cohen and Howard in the same roles respectively. Ryan Nall could kill two birds with one stone and take over a roster spot for Mizzel and Burton. This will help free a spot elsewhere, where it likely is needed more.