The Chicago Bears may have their middle linebacker of the futureRyan Heckmanon August 31, 2022 at 3:00 pm

After the initial 53-man roster was released, the Chicago Bears had a handful of impressive players who worked hard and earned their spot.

Maybe none was more of a success story than undrafted linebacker Jack Sanborn out of the University of Wisconsin.

As one of the top linebackers in the country last year, Sanborn earned First Team All Big Ten. Yet, he failed to hear his name called on draft weekend, mostly due to him running a slower time in the 40-yard dash.

But, looking at his college tape, there was no doubt that this kid could play, and the Bears were smart to give him his shot. Now, he finds himself on the team — and potentially a long-term fit, too.

The stars could align for Jack Sanborn to be next in line of some excellent Chicago Bears middle linebackers.

Over the offseason, the Bears signed a pair of starting linebackers in Nicholas Morrow and Matthew Adams. Neither of them have been longtime starters previously, though, and both signed a 1-year deal in Chicago.

Because of this, the door is wide open for Sanborn to impress and stick around on this team for years to come.

Sanborn enjoyed a stellar preseason, finishing with 13 tackles, one interception, one pass defended, one fumble recovery in three game appearances.

Five highest graded Bears who played all three preseason games, per @PFF

1. Lachavious Simmons 92.72. Justin Fields 90.43. DeMarquis Gates 85.74. Jack Sanborn 83.05. Dante Pettis 81.8 tied with Sam Kamara

— Josh Schrock (@Schrock_And_Awe) August 29, 2022

Over his career at Wisconsin, which saw him start in three of four years, Sanborn tallied 228 tackles, 29.0 for a loss, 11.5 sacks, four passes defended, four interceptions, three forced fumbles and a pair of recoveries.

This year, Sanborn will likely contribute mostly on special teams. But, if he performs well and plays with the intensity that he did all of his college career and in the preseason, he’ll have a real shot to stick around and potentially start in the coming years.

Look, if we’ve learned anything about Ryan Poles thus far it’s that he wants mostly “his guys” on this roster, as would any new general manager. Sanborn could end up being a huge success story and someone Poles can hang his hat on as one of the very first intelligent moves he’s made with the Bears.

Going into 2023, the Bears will have a ton of cap space to work with and plenty of roster spots to fill after many of these short-term deals expire. The best gift that can be given to any general manager is a highly-talented starting player on a rookie deal — and that’s exactly what Sanborn presents.

After this season, the Bears could choose to keep Sanborn for the future and allow him to flourish into their starting middle linebacker. Playing this year on special teams and taking the coaching and direction from Matt Eberflus could pay huge dividends for Sanborn. He is now in a position where he may control his own destiny.

The Bears don’t have any starting linebackers locked up for beyond the 2022 season, including Roquan Smith.

Now is the time for Sanborn, and he must take full advantage of this opportunity.

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