A total of 14 running backs left the field before the Chicago Bears picked former Kansas running back Khalil Herbert with the 217th pick overall. Still, that doesn’t mean the Bears will temper their expectations for the running back who played his last college season at Virginia Tech.
Chicago Bears area scout John Syty praised Herbert’s playing ability in a video interview with Jeff Joniak, who is the team’s play-by-play announcer. The full video is available on the team’s Youtube page and was released on May 5.
“What sets this kid apart from most of the other full-backs in this class is just his subtle vision, his feet and his elusive sound,” said Syty. “(He’s a) very patient runner. But the second he sees something, he hits it and walks away.
“This guy brings a home-run ability every time he touches football,” Syty said.
The Bears dropped nine spots in the sixth round on the final day of the 2021 NFL Draft, and their patience has paid off. They selected Herbert with the 33rd pick in the sixth round.
In that same round, the San Francisco 49ers picked running back Elijah Mitchell of Louisiana, the New York Giants took Gary Brightwell of Arizona, the Los Angeles Chargers picked up Larry Rountree III of Missouri and the Cincinnati Bengals drafted Michigan running back Chris Evans. All came before Herbert, who has just completed a year of career and posted impressive numbers last fall.
After playing four seasons in Kansas, Herbert transferred to Virginia Tech for the 2020 campaign. He placed fifth in the nation in the rush with 1,183 yards and eight touchdowns on 155 carries. He also caught 10 passes for 179 yards and one score.
“He went to Virginia Tech his senior year and that’s where he kinda got on the radar for us,” Syty said. “What Bears fans get is someone who really fits the culture we love to embrace in Chicago. (He’s a) humble, hardworking kid. Very passionate about football management. “
Herbert, who weighs 5 feet 9 inches and 204 pounds, is also expected to make an impact as a turner. He’s averaged 26.9 yards per return on a total of 16 kickoff returns with the Hokies.
“Strong comeback qualities,” said Syty. “He did a lot of back stuff at Virginia Tech last season for them. Really productive and has this top speed to be a difference factor in this phase for us. “
According to OurladsChicago’s running back is third-year running back David Montgomery. He’s just finished a season where he racked up 1,070 yards and eight rushing touchdowns on 247 carries. Montgomery also caught 54 passes for 438 yards and two scores.
Tarik Cohen and Damien Williams are both listed behind Montgomery on the depth chart, so Herbert certainly has the opportunity to carve out a role for himself with the Bears.
“I think the city of Chicago is going to really like to see this kid put on a Bears uniform,” said Syty.
The Bears aren’t the only ones who think they got a robbery, however.
In an ESPN article published on May 5Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus ranked the Herbert selection as one of the best value picks in the draft. Herbert was considered the fifth best running back on PFF’s big table entering the draft.
“Herbert’s escape in 2020 was no accident,” Renner wrote in the article. “We got a glimpse of this guy in 2019, when he averaged 9.2 yards per carry and broke 18 tackles in 42 attempts before leaving Kansas mid-season. After transferring to Virginia Tech, Herbert lit it up with 1,172 yards on just 155 carries and an average of 4.7 yards per carry after contact.
“Herbert has legit kicking speed and even had a kick-back return score last season,” Renner added. “At 5ft 9in and 212lb, he has the perfect body type to help with any down when called upon.”
So it’s safe to say that Herbert’s NFL career will be worth watching for curious KU football fans.