During the 2021 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears made an eyebrow-raising selection by opting to add former Virginia Tech running back Khalil Herbert in the sixth round. Many would just view the selection of Herbert as additional depth for David Montgomery and Tarik Cohen but the Bears’ return duties on special teams remain unsolved.
The last two seasons (2019 and 2020), saw Cordarrelle Patterson be the main return man on special teams for the Bears but for a price tag of $10M over two years, Patterson’s price tag was simply too much. Chicago moved on from Patterson this offseason and Herbert is expected to be a much cheaper option.
Playing at Virginia Tech for just one season, Herbert averaged 26.9 yards per return on special teams. For the Bears, he should provide similar value as a player who makes quick decisions and can be considered to be a homerun hitter when it comes to getting in the open field.
Chicago could decide to use Herbert in the running game but the main issue that exists is that there might not be a real role for Herbert. Besides Montgomery and Cohen, Chicago added veteran Damien Williams this offseason due to his familiarity with head coach Matt Nagy’s offense. Artavis Pierce and Ryan Nall were both on the active roster in 2020, which means it’ll be hard for Herbert to crack the lineup.
The Bears coaching staff doesn’t have a set role yet for Herbert either. He implied on Saturday when speaking with reporters.
â€œThey really want me to come in here and learn as much as I can,â€Â Herbert said via the Bears official Youtube page. â€œEstablish a role on special teams, theyâ€™re really big on that. Getting in my playbook, learning as much as I can to help contribute to the team in some way or formâ€.
Herbert being the main return man for the Bears would benefit the offense and defense. The big returns that he’d have would allow for both units to be set up with ideal field position, ensuring that the defense wouldn’t have to stop opposing offense’s on long drives while the Bears’ own offense wouldn’t need to march the length of the field to score.
Herbert has everything it takes to be an instant impact player for the Bears. As a player who sparked the Hokies offense multiple times while in college, he can bring much of the same energy and juice that the Bears’ special teams lacked all throughout times in 2020.