With their first of two seventh-round picks, the Bears landed their second running back of the draft, Florida Atlantic RB Kerrith Whyte, who joins a new-look backfield alongside third-round Iowa State product David Montgomery.
Whyte (5-foot-10 and 197 pounds) reportedly ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash this spring, and the redshirt junior out of Loxahatchee, Florida, averaged 6.5 yards per carry and 28.7 yards per kickoff return in his final season at Florida Atlantic.
"I like to say playmaker," Whyte said on a teleconference Saturday when asked for his personal scouting report. "I have long speed, very explosive, can do a lot of things, just make big plays."
Whyte said he actually made his decision to declare early for the draft after playing in the Boca Raton bowl following the 2017 season.
"I woke up with a feeling over my heart saying it’s time to go," he said. "So me, I didn’t want to believe it, I was kind of confused, so I sat there and prayed about it continuously and God, he showed me the answer. So my decision was made during spring conditioning, camp, fourth quarter, I don’t know what to call it. It was the feeling God put over my heart and God has brought me so far, so I never go against that."
The Bears did a lot of work on FAU leading up to the draft to evaluate Whyte's "brother from another mother," fellow Owls RB Devin Singletary, who wound up being selected one pick after Montgomery, No. 74 overall, by the Buffalo Bills. Clearly, Bears RB coach Charles London, who recently worked Whyte out privately, and the rest of the organization saw more than just Singletary in studying the Owls — and they weren't alone.
Though PFW didn't scout Whyte, NFL.com's Lance Zierlein was told by an AFC RB coach, "Singletary gets all the attention, but Whyte is the more explosive of the two and he might end up surprising people."
He also impressed popular analytics site Pro Football Focus, whose data reveals that Whyte, not Singletary, led Conference USA in yards after contact per attempt (3.92) and first-down conversion rate (37 percent).
Whyte, who's majoring in exercise science and health promotion, finished his career with 11 touchdowns and a 5.9-yard average on 232 carries, more than half of them coming last season. He added 22 receptions for 227 yards and two touchdowns and scored twice more on 81 kick returns combined over his three seasons.
Bears GM Ryan Pace said earlier this week, "I know running back's been talked about a lot, but we feel good about that position," but suffice to say the Bears feel better about it now. Whyte and Montgomery will vie for touches with incumbent triple threat Tarik Cohen and vet free-agent addition Mike Davis.
"I’m giving this whole organization, this whole city, everything I got," Whyte said. "They’re going to get every ounce of energy in me. I’m just thankful for this organization, whatever role that may be, I’m going to give them my all."