Analysis Bears

Bears: One to Watch This Preseason: Ryan Nall

After attending a few days of Bears Training Camp, Dan DeYoung has picked his favorite roster bubble player to keep an eye on: Ryan Nall.

Bears Football is back everyone! It may only be the preseason, but for diehard fans such as myself, when the long offseason comes to an end, I cannot get enough of anything involving Bears football. This includes watching some of the new guys fighting for a spot on the 2018 roster. While it is practically a tune-up for the NFL regular season for starters (slightly more important with a new coach), the third-string guys are fighting for their shot at being on an NFL roster, and that is why I find these games so exciting. 

Every year fans obtain some sort of attachment to certain players that are new to the team that they get excited about watching in the preseason games, believing that they can contribute to the team when the regular season begins.  We will be pointing out some of those players that you should watch for over the next four games (Unless they are cut loose early).

My early attachment is to UDFA Running Back Ryan Nall. This is no newly new found link, as this goes back to before he was even signed. After showing some early flashes in camp, a big day could be coming soon for him when preseason games roll around.


When Ryan Nall originally came to Oregon State, it was not clear what his path was as a football player. He was listed as a tight end his freshman year, and there was some talk about moving him to play linebacker, a position he played in high school. Nall ended up as a running back at Oregon State, and he started to get himself some playing time his redshirt sophomore year.

He had some big games over his career at Oregon State, but none bigger than the “Civil War” against Oregon his Sophomore year. Coincidentally, Chicago Bears Offensive Coordinator Mark Helfrich got a good look at him that day, as he was the coach on the other sideline in that game. Helfrich learned the hard way about the “Wreaking Nall” that day, as Nall ran for four touchdowns in that game.

This helped Oregon State win that rivalry game for the first time in nine years. This game may have cost more than just a winning streak, as it may have been the final nail in the coffin for Helfrich, as he was fired after that last game.

When looking for Ryan Nall’s best year, you must look at his redshirt Sophomore year, as he rushed for 951 yards and 13 touchdowns that season. He also had a pretty great redshirt junior year as well, as he ran for 810 yards, and 8 touchdowns. He then decided to take his chances in the NFL Draft, with some citing the reason for his early departure from school as not wanting to learn another offense, under a new head coach.

The Film

Ryan Nall film is a ton of fun to watch. The guy displays a few different attributes that could help him earn a spot on this team. The most noticeable and exciting trait of Nall’s is his bruising running style. He has a fairly similar build to Jordan Howard, even a bit bigger than him in both height and weight. Bears fans have become accustomed to Howard bowling over people the last couple years, and Nall has shown that he can do the same thing.

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The raw power of Nall is very exciting to watch. There is a reason that he was given the nickname the “Wreaking Nall”.

Ryan Nall effectively uses that power to not only create short plays but to make big-time plays.  When Nall gets the rock in his hand, he is not only going to break through a tackle, but he is going to break away from everyone, taking the ball to the house on many occasions. He did that quite a bit during his college career, and he already has done it at Bears Training Camp.

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Nall does another great thing that a feature back in the Bears offense needs to do, and that is catching the football.  He does a great job of not only catching and securing the football, but also getting some yards after the catch like he does on his runs.

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From all of the college film that I watched of Nall, whenever the ball was in his hands, you knew that something special could happen. There was a reason that Oregon State fans loved him so.

His Fit and Case To Make The Team

Ryan Nall comes into one of the most touted groups of running backs in all the NFL. With the likes of Jordan Howard, Tarik Cohen, and Benny Cunningham returning, the Bears backfield looks stacked already.

So where in world does Ryan Nall fit into this backfield? Well, he can fit in a lot of different ways. Nall has stated that he wants to be a running back but is willing to change positions if he needs to. So far through Training Camp, it has been very apparent that the Matt Nagy offense will have skill players all over the field, and being versatile is crucial for a backup to make this team.

Ryan Nall could step up and potentially play in many different positions. If there is a problem at the running back position, he can step up and play running back, if there is a problem at fullback, he has the size to play fullback, and if he needs to play tight end, he can play tight end.

If Nall can learn both running back and tight end at some point, he could end up being a matchup nightmare for the defense. When he runs out on the field, he can do so many different things in the offense, and the defense would have to be ready for anything.

The Matt Nagy offense is all about versatility, and Ryan Nall is the perfect example of a player that would fit into this offense. With all of the things that he can do, he should be a candidate to make this football team, and for sure a guy that can make the practice squad. If he does make this team, look out for him on special teams, as he could be a dangerous man when he is screaming down the field.

Nall will be getting a big opportunity Thursday night against the Ravens in the Hall of Fame game, as he will surely be getting plenty of touches.

Follow Dan DeYoung on Twitter–Feature Photo Credit:Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports


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