Thanks to a blog reader who goes by the handle St. Louis, for pointing out this column in the National Football Post by Greg Gabriel, the Bears former college scouting director.
Gabriel provides some nice perspective on Caleb Hanie, an undrafted free agent out of Colorado State in 2008.
You can read the entire column by clicking here.
But Gabriel gives a history of Hanie, who wasn't invited to the NFL Combine. Gabriel said they knew they weren't going to spend a draft pick on Hanie but that they wanted him as an undrafted free agent. Gabriel said he called Hanie every 10 days, to reiterate the Bears plan for him.
"What we didn't expect was for Hanie to play as well as he did in the preseason games. Going into the preseason, we felt that we could cut Hanie at the final cutdown and sign him to the practice squad," Gabriel wrote. "When he had two strong games it became apparent that cutting him would be to risky a move, so we kept him as the 3rd quarterback behind Kyle Orton and Rex Grossman. Through the season he only got reps as the scout team quarterback but you saw his talent, work ethic and passion for the game. Good things to build on."
In conclusion, Gabriel said he knows that Hanie is a "gamer and a winner."
"His strong points are he is an excellent athlete with a strong arm and good accuracy," Gabriel wrote. "With his athleticism, he can extend plays with his feet and is a good runner. His main weakness is his lack of regular season game experience. This I know: he is respected by his teammates, is a good leader and, now with two years in the system, feels comfortable.
"My gut feeling is he is going to play well and lead the Bears to the playoffs. The whole scenario couldn't come at a better time for Hanie."
It is important to note, as Gabriel did, that Hanie will be an unrestricted free agent after this season. He couldn't have any more motivation or appreciate a greater opportunity to take over a playoff-caliber team, with a host of solid weapons at his disposal.
"If he plays well the Bears will have to pay him to keep him. Of course a poor showing could end his career," Gabriel wrote. "Knowing him the way I do, I bet that he will be one of the big stories of the last weeks of the 2011 NFL season."