The Chicago Bears signed former Wyoming WR Tanner Gentry as an undrafted free agent following the 2017 NFL Draft.
Gentry is coming off a 2016 senior season in which he caught 72 passes for 1,326 yards and 14 TDs. During rookie minicamp last weekend, Gentry was the most impressive of Chicago's UDFAs.
To get a better feel for Gentry's skill set, I broke down film from two of his collegiate contests. Here's what I found.
Vs. Washington State
-0:20 – Gentry is lined up wide right in man coverage against the boundary cornerback. He angles his stem toward the far hash, running directly at the corner, before cutting back inside on a skinny post. The corner can’t keep pace and Gentry is open deep. He adjust to the under-thrown pass and drags the CB into the end zone for a 45-yard TD.
-1:05 – Kick returner, Gentry fields the ball in the very front corner of the end zone. A coverage player comes free and Gentry can’t make him miss, going down at the 15-yard line. He looked unsure of himself in the open field on this return.
-1:30 – Wide left vs. man coverage. Corner is giving up nine yards of cushion. Gentry runs a quick out, makes the catch at seven yards, breaks the tackle attempt from the CB. He picks up 14 yards and a 1st down.
-1:41 – Wide left, six-yard hitch route, again taking advantage of the big cushion. He makes the catch at the 48, turns inside and breaks the arm tackle of the corner. He’s eventually tackled at the 36 after a 17-yard gain.
-2:12 – Left slot in trips formation, Gentry runs a slant and has a defender hanging on his back as the pass arrives. He reaches out and snatches the ball out of the air for the first down. Physical catch with the CB draped all over him, great hands and concentration.
-2:53 – 17-yard curl route from the right boundary. Gentry sits in the soft spot of zone coverage, catches the ball away from his body and picks up the first down on 3rd and 16.
Vs. Appalachian State
-3:05 – Bubble screen, Gentry breaks five tackles, with defenders bouncing off him like bowling pins, before four guys take him down. The play goes for 24 yards.
-4:45 – Wide right, man coverage, he runs a deep post. The cornerback falls down as Gentry makes his cut and he’s wide open behind the defense. The ball is under-thrown but he adjust well to it, tracks it through the foggy conditions and makes the catch as he’s going to the turf.
Gentry is 6-2, 210 and uses his size to play a physical brand of football. He can absorb contact as he makes catches in traffic, which is a necessity for any NFL possession receiver. After the catch, he easily breaks through arm tackles and can run over smaller secondary defenders who don’t measure up on the toughness scale.
On film, Gentry shows outstanding hands. He consistently catches the ball away from his body, something I saw firsthand during rookie minicamp.
Gentry runs crisp routes, tracks the deep ball well and shows solid awareness against zone coverage. He also has a bit of punt and kick return experience, which might give him added value in special teams.
On film and in person, Gentry compares favorably to Jordy Nelson and Anquan Boldin, big-bodied possession receivers who are dangerous at all three levels of the passing attack. He ran a 4.58 40-yard dash at his pro day, which is comparable to Nelson’s 4.51. Gentry also posted 19 bench press reps, which is excellent for a wide receiver.
Gentry was easily the most impressive of Chicago’s undrafted free agents during rookie minicamp. He showed off his sticky hands and solid route running, and consistently won against man coverage. He developed an instant chemistry with QB Mitch Trubisky, which should build as the two continue to work together throughout the off-season.
The Bears have a lot of uncertainty at the wide receiver position, which could create a juicy opportunity for Gentry to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster.