Bears Predicted to Add ‘Throwback’ QB to Roster

Austin Reed

Getty New Chicago Bears QB Austin Reed.

In 2022, it was linebacker Jack Sanborn. Last season, it was quarterback Tyson Bagent. Can the Chicago Bears find another diamond in the rough of undrafted players this year?

One analyst believes the Bears may have found one in former Western Kentucky QB Austin Reed.

Bleacher Report’s Ryan Fowler listed one undrafted free agent “most likely” to make each NFL team’s roster. For Chicago, he chose Reed.

“Austin Reed is heading to Chicago with a long list of accolades, ridiculous production against FBS competition and a throwback type of approach under center that could move the needle for Bears staff,” Fowler wrote on May 5, adding:

“Teams usually tend to roster a backup with a similar skill set to that of its starter, but Reed’s ability to flat-out spin it could force general manager Ryan Poles to think twice about that.”

What Chance Does QB Austin Reed Have to Make Chicago Bears Roster?

It’s a slim one, but if he can outperform Bagent, who decidedly won the backup job as an UDFA last season, Reed has a chance to make Chicago’s final 53-man roster.

In two seasons at Western Kentucky, Reed threw for 8,086 yards, 71 touchdowns and 22 interceptions, completing 63.2% of his passes while also rushing for 12 scores. Last year, he threw for 3,340 yards, 31 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, completing 61.5% of his throws.

It’ll be an uphill battle for Reed to usurp Bagent as Caleb Williams‘ backup. But Bagent faced a similar challenge last year and rose to it. Perhaps Reed can do the same.

After beating out veteran P.J. Walker for the backup position, Bagent started four games as a rookie last season in relief of ex-Bears quarterback Justin Fields. Bagent went 2-2 in his four starts, completing 65.7% of his passes for 859 yards, three touchdowns and six interceptions. That experience gives Bagent the edge heading into training camp.

The Bears have a new offensive coordinator in Shane Waldron, so Williams, Bagent and Reed will all be learning the same offense at the same time. If Reed meshes better in Waldron’s scheme than Bagent does, that could help the rookie QB’s chances.

A Closer Look at Reed’s Game

The 6-foot-2, 220-pound Reed has a solid pocket presence and has shown a knack for being able to evade pressure and make a play. His game does have its limitations, though. In 2023, 680 of his passing yards came on screen passes, which was fourth among all quarterbacks with at least 300 dropbacks (stats via PFF). His lack of explosive plays is concerning.

Reed also had 52 batted balls over his last two seasons, which is far from ideal. The rookie QB had two multi-interception games in his two years at WKU, and that isn’t bad, but it’s fair to question his arm talent.

Reed didn’t get much help from his receivers at WKU, as the unit had a drop rate just under 8% last season.

“While his receivers dropped too many easy throws, Reed often lacked the touch and accuracy needed to make their jobs easier,” draft expert Lance Zierlein of wrote in Reed’s draft profile. “He’s a competitor who can slip away from pressure and make plays out of structure, but he simply doesn’t have the arm to make the intermediate and deep throws required for the position in the NFL.”

The most likely outcome will be a spot on the practice squad for Reed, with Bagent remaining the team’s backup. But clearly, Reed’s is a name to watch in the coming months.

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