As most of Chicago was just preparing for work this morning, the Chicago Bears were finishing up the rookie contract for sixth-round pick J.T. Thomas. The former-West Virginia linebacker signed a four-year deal for an undisclosed amount. Shortly thereafter, Cliff Stein, the club’s lead contract negotiator, came to undisclosed terms on a four-year deal with fifth-round selection Nathan Enderle.
Enderle was a four-year starter at quarterback for Idaho, finishing as the school’s all-time leader in attempts (1,427), ranking second in school annals in completions (779), third in passing yards (10,084), and fourth in TD passes (81) and total offense yards (9,935) in 45 games.
The 6-4, 240-pounder has the type of frame and arm strength coordinator Mike Martz looks for in his signal callers. He personally scouted Enderle before the draft and liked what he saw.
QB Nathan Enderle
Rob Christy/US Presswire
“Martz went out and worked him out this year and really kind of fell for the kid in terms of the intangibles that he brings. Obviously, the size and obviously, the arm strength,” said Tim Ruskell, Chicago’s director of player personnel. “Coach Martz had a real strong conviction on him and we agreed with the traits that he saw.”
As a starter, Enderle’s teams lost more than they won and his 55-percent completion percentage his senior season also raises some red flags.
“I thought [his completion percentage] was better the year before. I felt like he had more people around him. He had a tight end and a receiver to throw to that were of pretty good caliber. His offensive line was a little bit better,” Ruskell said. “You would love that [percentage] be in the 60s or better. But we think he has the potential to be that kind of a quarterback.”
The pick raised some additional eyebrows due to the team already having what most assumed was an already established No.2 in Caleb Hanie. The team will head into training camp with Hanie as the primary backup and Enderle as the No. 3. Yet news of the club’s interest in former-Jets receiver Brad Smith adds a twist to this scenario.
Smith played receiver, running back and quarterback for New York, often out of the Wildcat. It’s been rumored that if the Bears sign Smith, they may roster him in one of the now-mandatory, three-quarterback spots. In that way, they can insert a playmaker who can be used at multiple positions on offense, and who is also a prolific kick returner, all for the price of a roster spot that most likely would have gone unused. It’s a smart strategy, considering each team now must carry three passers on the 53-man roster.
This could create some intense competition in training camp between Hanie and Enderle. Something to watch for with camp opening up this Saturday.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.