Bear Report recently discussed the future of backup QB Caleb Hanie after coordinator Mike Martz and Co. held a private workout with former TCU quarterback Andy Dalton. If the Bears still plan on bringing in a veteran signal caller to back up Jay Cutler – which Martz has hinted at – that leaves one space left on the roster for a QB, which many assumed would be Hanie's. Yet Martz has been noncommittal regarding Hanie's role on the team going forward.
Of late, that debate has picked up even more steam.
Last week, Martz put North Carolina QB T.J. Yates through a private workout. The four-year starter at UNC established 37 school records, including career-passing yards, single-season passing yards and single-season total offense. Yates started 44 career games at UNC and was a 2010 honorable-mention All-ACC selection. As a senior, he completed 282 of 422 attempts (66.8 percent) for 3,418 yards and 19 touchdowns, and was second in the ACC in pass efficiency and yards per game. In 2010, he became the first Tar Heel in school history to throw for more than 3,000 yards in a season.
QB T.J. Yates
Yates (6-4, 220-pounds) is considered a sixth- or seventh-round pick. He does not have ideal arm strength or accuracy, and has shown a lot of inconsistency in his decision-making. He can be inpatient in the pocket and needs to work on his mechanics. Against the pass rush, he's above average, showing good ability to escape the rush and is aware enough to keep his head downfield when scrambling.
In essence, he's nothing more than a developmental prospect that most likely won't grow into much more than a backup at the NFL level. Yates has shown marked improvement though in all areas of his game each year at UNC, demonstrating a willingness to listen to his coaches and work on his fundamentals – both very attractive qualities for a developmental QB.
Martz also popped up last week at the pro day of Idaho's Nathan Enderle, another late-round/free-agent prospect. Enderle (6-4, 240-pounds) started all four of his years at Idaho, finishing as the school's all-time leader in pass attempts (1,427) and second all-time in completions (779). He is a very accurate thrower but lacks NFL-level throwing power. He is mobile inside the pocket and scrambles well, always looking to throw, not run.
His numbers at Idaho weren't eye-popping. He threw far too many incompletions and hurt his team regularly with bad interceptions. There are concerns about his throwing motion as well.
Yet what is attractive about him is his ability to run an offense. Enderle played a role at Idaho similar to that of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. The system at Idaho called for a lot of pre-snap reads and Enderle demonstrated great ability in reading defenses, moving players around and calling audibles. He's a natural leader on the field.
His intelligence is the most attractive part about him as a quarterback, which is what makes him intriguing as an NFL project. If he continues to master the fundamentals and learn the pro system, he can easily develop into a solid backup. But that is about as high as his ceiling goes.
Finally, Martz took a long look at Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien at the school's recent pro day. Tolzien (6-2, 212-pounds) is a pure thrower. His accuracy is his strong suit, while his lack of arm-strength will most likely make him a free agent pick up. He grew up in Rolling Meadows and played high school football at Fremd High, so Chicago might give the hometown prospect a shot at the practice squad.
It's plainly obvious the Bears are searching hard for another quarterback. Yet these visits and workouts actually are a good sign for Hanie. The three aforementioned QBs will be lucky to get drafted and could be available in the post-draft, free agent bin. Meaning Chicago probably isn't seriously considering using a fifth- or sixth-round pick on any of them. Most likely, the team is just getting a closer look at a few players they may invite to training camp.
Wipe that brow Caleb, your job is safe for now.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.