Scout's Analysis: RB Harvey Unga

RB Harvey Unga (George Frey/AP)

What do the Chicago Bears have in running back Harvey Unga? We acquired the insider's point of view via Brandon Gurney of TotalBlueSports.com, who covered Unga during his career at BYU.

Even though he was believed to be worth perhaps a third- or fourth-round pick, the Monsters of the Midway managed to come away with BYU running back Harvey Unga in Round 7 of Thursday's 2010 NFL Supplemental Draft.

The leading rusher in the storied history of Cougars football and coming off three straight 1,000-yard seasons, Unga threw around the idea of making himself eligible for the actual NFL Draft this past April but decided to return to Provo instead. However, he was dismissed from the team for a violation of the team's honor code, when it came to light that he – Mormonism founder Joseph Smith Jr. never would have approved – had pre-marital sex with his girlfriend. As coincidence would have it, the girl in question, BYU basketball player Keilani Moeaki, has Chicago ties since she is a graduate of Wheaton-Warrenville South High School, plus the two of them ended up getting married the same day Unga was chosen by the Bears.

For an insider's perspective on Unga and what he might bring to the Midway Monsters on offense, BearReport.com consulted with Brandon Gurney, the managing editor of TotalBlueSports.com on the Scout.com network:

Strengths: He's surprisingly light on his feet for a player of his size and knows how to run downhill while not wasting movement in taking the football laterally. He catches the ball very well, to the point where the coaching staff considered moving him to tight end when he was a freshman. He has also learned to pick up blitzes effectively in BYU's pass-first offense.

Weaknesses: He lacks experience as a lead blocker out of the backfield. He has worn down some over the course of each of the three seasons he played as BYU's primary ball carrier, although he has missed very few games during those years. He perhaps lacks the straight-ahead speed necessary for an NFL running back.


RB Harvey Unga
Ted S. Warren/AP

Gurney Says: Unga's future as a primary running back in the NFL is in doubt due to his lack of top-end speed. He could be used in spots as a good change-of-pace and short-yardage type running back, but he will most likely be best served as a fullback. While he hasn't spent much time lead blocking while at BYU, he certainly has the athletic makeup and attitude to become a very good NFL fullback.

JC's Take: The Bears do not have an experienced fullback on the roster after waiving Jason McKie in the offseason, with second-year pros Will Ta'ufo'ou and Eddie Williams only spending time on the Chicago and Washington practice squads, respectively, a year ago.

Nevertheless, that doesn't automatically mean general manager Jerry Angelo and Co. are viewing Unga as a fullback, regardless of the fact that the roster is currently flooded with tailbacks. Matt Forte and Chester Taylor are going to be sharing the load in Mike Martz's scheme this season, and while both of them are quality runners and accomplished receivers, neither one of them has a track record of getting it done in short-yardage or goal-line situations. While Garrett Wolfe and Kahlil Bell will battle it out in Bourbonnais for No. 3 duties, Unga could conceivably unseat those two if he morphs into a Leonard Weaver-type player: a fullback-tailback hybrid that can catch the ball out of the backfield as well as he barrels through the line for a crucial yard or two.

In all likelihood, Unga needs to make the 53-man roster somewhere, because if other teams were willing to give up a draft pick in 2011 to get him, they'll certainly pluck him off waivers before he ever makes it to the Chicago practice squad.


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John Crist is the publisher of BearReport.com. Brandon Gurney is the managing editor of TotalBlueSports.com.

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