The 2017 Chicago Bears rookie minicamp practices were perhaps some of the most highly anticipated in recent memory. A big reason for that is obvious enough. It features the first quarterback taken by the franchise in the top five picks of a draft in 35 years. People are no doubt anxious to see Mitch Trubisky throw and begin the long process towards becoming a starter.
Though all eyes were on him, the minicamp is traditionally an avenue for other young players to get noticed. Names who showcase well at them tend to get signed by the team. At least for training camp and maybe more. In 2015 that spotlight belonged to Cameron Meredith and last year it was Taveze Calhoun. Sometimes it leads to bigger things and sometimes not.
So who’s the star of the first few days this time around? Turns out it’s somebody a lot of people wouldn’t expect. Though second round pick Adam Shaheen and fourth rounder Tarik Cohen have had their share of impressive moments, they took a back seat to Tanner Gentry.
Bears rookie minicamp days 1 & 2 belonged to Tanner Gentry
Gentry was considered one of the more intriguing pickups by the Bears in undrafted free agency. A wide receiver out of Wyoming, he came into camp on a roll after posting 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns during his final year in college. Sports Mockery got a chance to interview him a few days ago where he stated with confidence that he not only planned to make the team but could become one of the best receivers in the league.
Well he seems to be off to a great start. According to Jeremy Stoltz of Scout.com, Gentry lit up the field on the first day of practice.
“One of the first snaps of 7-on-7s, Trubisky found WR Tanner Gentry — who had a solid practice himself — on a 15-yard out route from the far hash. It was an NFL-level throw with excellent timing and ball placement, giving the cornerback no chance to make a play.
Later, during 11-on-11s, Trubisky ran a play-action naked bootleg, outraced the outside linebacker to far sideline and fired a strike on the run to Gentry. As on film, his accuracy and arm strength are top-tier on the run as well.
WR Tanner Gentry was by far the best receiver of today’s practice. He had three quality catches from Trubisky, two against man coverage and one on a deep hitch against zone coverage. Gentry has good size (6-2, 220) and showed great hands today.”
That success didn’t end on the second day though. Gentry proved himself to be a model of consistency, proving his statement that creating separation and catching the ball are indeed his strengths.
“I mentioned him yesterday and WR Tanner Gentry continues to impress. He caught nearly every pass thrown his way today, showing by far the best hands of any receiver on the field.”
It’s a surefire sign that Gentry is almost certain to make the roster and attend training camp in July. Then again this shouldn’t be a surprise. Experts have been high on him for months.
It’s not an accident
Several outlets called him by far the best undrafted player Chicago was able to sign. Pro Football Focus wrote a glowing review of him in their scouting report. They stated that while he’s not much of a run-after-the-catch threat “he makes up for that with his large catch radius and athletic ability, which allow him to make circus catches on off-target passes.”
If nothing else this could be a good way for the Bears to add more quality depth to their receiving corps. Something needed after the team lost Alshon Jeffery to free agency and then cut veteran Eddie Royal.