Bears Add Another Potential Hidden Gem to Offense

Kellen Diesch

Getty Offensive lineman Kellen Diesch runs the 40 yard dash during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 04, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears have finalized their 16-player practice squad.

Largely full of familiar faces, Chicago brought back 15 players who were part of the team’s final roster cuts, along with one notable new addition.

The Bears have signed the following players to their PS: running back Darrynton Evans, quarterback Nathan Peterman, defensive tackles Micah Dew-Treadway and Trevon Coley, linebackers Joe Thomas and DeMarquis Gates, offensive linemen Lachavious Simmons and Kellen Diesch, wide receivers Isaiah Coulter and Nsimba Webster, safeties Davontae Harris and A.J. Thomas, tight end Chase Allen, center/guard Dieter Eiselen, defensive end Sam Kamara and cornerback Thomas Graham Jr.

Of the 16, Diesch is the only one who hasn’t previously spent time with the Bears, and he could be another diamond in the rough-type signing for general manager Ryan Poles.

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Diesch Had Round 4 Grades From Multiple Draft Analysts

Diesch, who played his college ball for the Arizona State Sun Devils, went undrafted in 2022, which surprised many draft experts and analysts. Bleacher Report’s scouting department gave him a fourth-round grade, as did Windy City Gridiron’s lead draft analyst, Jacob Infante.

Waived by the Miami Dolphins as part of their final roster cuts, he was expected to be signed back to Miami’s practice squad, but Poles pounced, bringing him to Chicago instead.

Athletic and quick, the 6-foot-7, 301-pound Diesch played well at Arizona State, particularly during his final year. In 821 snaps at left tackle in 2021, he allowed six hurries, no QB hits and 2.0 sacks, earning an 89.4 pass block grade from PFF.

Via’s lead draft analyst Lance Zierlein: “Diesch is highly athletic with the initial quickness and fluidity to stand out on reach blocks, second-level cut-offs and long pulls in space. He’s scheme-dependent, lacking strength to generate movement as a drive blocker. He lacks functional length and the anchor needed to keep NFL speed-to-power rushers from ruining his day. If he can add the necessary strength and mass, he’ll have a chance to find snaps in a heavily move-oriented offense.”

That sounds quite a bit like the kind of offense Bears OC Luke Getsy runs, with quarterback Justin Fields rolling out and on the move a lot more than he was as a rookie last year.

While Diesch will be one player to watch on Chicago’s PS, another will be Graham, who is aiming to get back on the team’s active roster.

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Graham Expects to Make Active Roster Again Soon

Another member of the team’s practice squad, cornerback Graham, found himself in a similar situation last year as a rookie. A sixth-round pick out of the University of Oregon for the Bears in 2021, Graham began the year on the PS, and was eventually moved up to the active roster later in the season, playing in four games and starting one.

He showed flashes in those four games, and he seemed to be doing well this year until the hamstring injury struck.

The 23-year-old corner has been sidelined with a hamstring injury since training camp began in late July, and he missed the entire preseason as a result. He says he plans to make it back on the 53-man roster again, sooner rather than later.

“Just hope once I show them that I’m healthy, they kinda see what they’ve already seen before, and go back to the position I was already at,” Graham said on August 31, via Alex Shapiro of NBC Sports.

“This isn’t a long term thing in my head, it’s a short term thing,” Graham added. “Just get fully healthy and then let them see what they’ve already seen before.”

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