This is CHGO’s Chicago Bears 2022 player preview series. Learn more about each player and what to expect from them this year.
Trestan Ebner is entering his rookie season after being selected by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft.
The running back had a wildly successful collegiate career as he finished second all-time in Baylor history in all-purpose yards (4,542). Ebner was able to accomplish this due to his versatility and ability to contribute in three different ways: as a runner, receiver and returner.
2021 Stats (College)
Advanced Stat to Know: Ebner averaged 12 yards per catch in college. That was the best mark of all running backs in the 2022 draft class. (Quienten Krzysko)
Best Game of 2021 (College)
Ebner had a few games that stood out, but the one that did more so than the rest was the Week 12 game against Texas Tech.
Ebner only had 38 rushing yards on 12 attempts. However, his impact was felt as a receiver as he had 118 receiving yards on four catches for an impressive 29.5 yards per catch and one touchdown. He also added 64 yards as a kick returner.
Will Trestan Ebner make an immediate impact as a rookie?
There is no doubt that Ebner has talent and the potential to be a successful running back at the next level. It’s just a matter of when the Bears decide to give him that chance.
The current running back room is crowded in Chicago with David Montgomery, Khalil Herbert and Darrynton Evans — who the Bears claimed off waivers in March.
Make no mistake, Ebner does have a chance to prove himself in training camp and has a path to make the final roster. He will compete with Evans for that final roster spot at running back (assuming the Bears only keep three).
What separates Ebner from his peers is his receiving ability. He currently holds PFF’s highest career receiving grade by a Big 12 running back (91.4), which is just above Joe Mixon (90.5) who has had a solid professional career in Cincinnati.
Ebner is a legitimate receiving threat coming out of the backfield.
If the Bears value those receiving skills and believe they can put them to good use this season, they will find ways to get Ebner on the field. Chicago can’t have too many effective weapons for second-year quarterback Justin Fields.
He still has some work to do as a runner, but the Bears don’t need to force him to be a rushing threat. Instead, they can carve out a role that caters to his strengths as a receiver.
Ebner also provides value as a returner with over 1,100 yards and three touchdowns returning kicks in his last two seasons. He joins a long list of Bears who have a proven history of being effective kick returners.
Do the Bears believe Ebner’s receiving skills are too good to sit on the bench or stash on the practice squad?
Is Chicago afraid that Ebner won’t clear waivers or that another team will sign him off their practice squad?
If the answer to any of those questions is “Yes,” then it’s difficult to see a scenario where Ebner does not make the team this season.
It’s easy to get excited about what Ebner brings to the Bears. He has the potential to become a legitimate threat in Chicago.
For Ebner, it’s just a matter of when he gets his chance. His first step will be winning the battle for the RB3 job over Evans.
If the rookie running back makes waves in training camp and shows out in the preseason, it makes it nearly impossible for the Bears to feel comfortable attempting to stash him on the practice squad. General manager Ryan Poles could not stomach losing a promising draft pick that way.
However, if Ebner doesn’t make a ton of noise in July-August, then he can easily start the season on the practice squad as the Bears first look to see what they have in their waiver-claim Evans.
For now, let’s expect Ebner to sit for a bit. If he makes waves in camp and highlights in the preseason, then expectations can change as he earned a roster spot.
It just shouldn’t be handed to him.
Prediction: Starts the season on the practice squad. Is activated at some point in the season.
Stats: 5 Rushes, 15 Yards / 10 Catches, 80 Yards, 1 Touchdown / 3 Kick Returns, 66 Yards / 2 Punt Returns, 20 Yards.