The overhaul of the Chicago Bears‘ roster continues in Year 2 under general manager Ryan Poles with the former offensive lineman reaching across the pond to add a prospect to the unit that was once viewed as a weakness but could be the best when all is said and done – the offensive line.
Chicago inked 6-foot-8, 331-pounder Roy Mbaeteka, to a rookie minicamp deal on May 4, per NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero.
Massive OL Prospect Inks Minicamp Deal With Bears
Mbaeteka is an international prospect from the African nation of Nigeria. He had multiple stints on the New York Giants practice squad last season.
Brick By Brick 🧱 pic.twitter.com/O4I4uIrGej
— Roy Mbaeteka (@its_McRoy) September 22, 2022
Mbaeteka is still only 23 years old. He declined a futures contract offer from the Giants in January to return to the NFL’s International Pathway Program.
“The six Nigerian players were discovered via Osi Umenyiora‘s The Uprise initiative and attended the inaugural NFL Africa talent camp in Ghana last year,” Pelissero reported in a subsequent tweet. “They were then invited to the International Combine in London and secured their place on the IPP program.”
Umenyiora spent 12 of his 14 NFL seasons with the Giants. He helped lead them to victory in Super Bowls XLII and XLVI.
Mbateka never played high school or college football and is a former basketball player. He had to hitch a ride, traveling 470 miles from Lagos to the Nigerian capital, Abuja, where the tryouts were being held, per Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com.
Makings of a beast 👏🏾💪🏾 https://t.co/fg00Yj2Uk5
— Roy Mbaeteka (@its_McRoy) February 5, 2023
“Once you see him, you know he’s physically imposing and in a year or two if you immerse him in football culture, he’s going to be fantastic,” Umenyiora told Michael Eisen of Giants.com in April of 2022 after Mbaeteka signed. “The Giants took a chance. Not much of a chance, I think. When you see him working, you’re going to know what he’s about. He is big, strong, physical, extremely intelligent, very athletic. He’s built to play offensive tackle in the league. In fact, he reminds me quite a bit of Kareem McKenzie…He has the same temperament. He’s very smart, but he’s a very athletic player.”
Per Mayer, 37 players have joined NFL rosters through the IPP program. The Bears also brought in a (slightly) more proven prospect with rookie camp right around the corner.
Bears Bring in Former Rams Playmaker
The Bears also invited former Los Angeles Rams wideout Jacob Harris in for their rookie minicamp as well, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 Houston.
A former fourth-round pick, Harris continues the influx of explosive athletes to the roster.
#Bears invite former #Rams wide receiver Jacob Harris (6-5, 211 former fourth-round draft pick) to their rookie minicamp, per a league source
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) May 4, 2023
He has a slight frame for a tight end but is unproven as a wide receiver.
There are also some durability concerns. He tore his pec in December of last season, ending his campaign prematurely in Week 11 after seven appearances.
“For a prospect who once looked promising thanks to his athleticism, it’s disappointing to see Harris’ time with the Rams on the verge of ending,” writes Cameron DaSilva of Rams Wire. “Injuries likely played a factor in that after he missed time in each of his first two years, but perhaps someone else will give him a chance and hope he can stay healthy.”
Bears Add Another Athletic Prospect
Both Harris and Mbaeteka are long shots to make the 53-man roster, let alone be active on gamedays
Bears GM Ryan Poles Sends Clear Message With Day 2 NFL Draft Picks
But Poles’ ideal vision of a Bears player becomes clearer by the transaction. He targeted durable, experienced athletes in the latter rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft. He is doing the same now, targeting traits in lieu of pedigree.
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