Don’t underestimate the value of undrafted free-agent signings.
At various points last season, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio started seven players who went undrafted to start their NFL careers: linebackers John Timu, Christian Jones, Jonathan Anderson and LaRoy Reynolds, safety Harold Jones-Quartey, nickel back Bryce Callahan and defensive tackle Mitch Unrein.
Timu, Anderson and Callahan were part of general manager Ryan Pace’s first group of undrafted rookie signings.
The Bears will check out plenty of players during their three-day rookie minicamp at Halas Hall, which starts Friday.
Here’s a look at the 10 undrafted free agents the Bears have signed:
Harvard tight end Ben Braunecker: With the Bears in need of a tight end or two, Braunecker (6-3, 250 pounds) is a solid signing. He showed off his athleticism at the NFL Scouting Combine, finishing among the leaders at his position in every category. He needs to prove himself against better competition, but he was a first-team All-Ivy League selection and caught 48 passes for 850 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
Duquesne center Dan Buchholz: Buchholz (6-4, 301 pounds) was a first-team All-Northeast Conference player last season. He’s listed as a center, but he was a four-year starter at left tackle and made 24 consecutive starts to finish his college career. Buchholz played defensive end in high school.
Mississippi State defensive back Taveze Calhoun: He has ideal size for a cornerback (6-0, 192 pounds). Calhoun, who took part in the combine, was a three-year starter at Mississippi State. In his senior season, he made two interceptions and broke up a team-high 10 passes.
Villanova linebacker Don Cherry: Cherry (6-1, 240 pounds) earned second-team FCS All-America and All-Colonial Athletic Association honors last season. He made 88 total tackles and led Villanova with 12½ tackles for loss. He also had three sacks and two forced fumbles.
Georgia Southern return man Derek Keaton: Keaton (5-10, 180 pounds) was a distinguished return man at Georgia Southern. He was a first-team All-Sun Belt selection last season, averaging 25.9 yards on kickoff returns and 15.3 yards on punt returns.
Buffalo offensive tackle John Kling: Kling is massive (6-7, 315 pounds). He also has a wingspan of 7 feet. He played left tackle in his senior season after starting at right tackle as a junior. Kling was a second-team All-Mid-American Conference selection last season.
Liberty wide receiver Darrin Peterson: Peterson is a big receiver (6-2, 190 pounds). He is Liberty’s all-time career leader in receptions (215), receiving yards (3,170 yards) and receiving touchdowns (27). A four-year starter, Peterson was a three-time first-team All-Big South Conference selection.
Oklahoma State cornerback Kevin Peterson: Peterson was a first-team All-Big 12 selection last season. He also was one of 15 national semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back). Peterson is listed at 5-11 and 190 pounds, but he reportedly weighed in at 173 pounds at the Senior Bowl.
UTEP linebacker Roy Robertson-Harris: Robertson-Harris (6-7, 255 pounds) was a significant signing. He was one of the most sought-after free agents after the draft. At UTEP, he made 33 starts and had 10½ sacks and 23 tackles for loss. An exceptional athlete, Robertson-Harris played end at UTEP but is considered a 3-4 outside linebacker in the NFL.
Wisconsin-Oshkosh tight end Joe Sommers: Sommers (6-3, 240 pounds) started 28 games and made 87 catches for 1,384 yards and seven touchdowns at Wisconsin-Oshkosh. After his senior season, Somners was named to the Division III All-America team. He also was a three-time first-team All-Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference selection.