Braunecker Gets NFL Opportunity; Signs Free Agent Deal With Bears

Ferdinand (NNDC) – After not being selected in the 2016 NFL Draft this weekend, former Forest Park All-State and Harvard All-America tight end Ben Braunecker will get his chance to play professional football.

The Chicago Bears say Braunecker signed a free agent contract with the team Sunday night about two hours after the conclusion of the draft.  Braunecker watched the draft on Saturday from his home in Ferdinand with family and close friends nearby along with a television crew from ESPN.

Braunecker was hoping to become the first former Forest Park Ranger to be drafted by an NFL team. The program first fielded a varsity football team in 2008; Ben’s freshman year.  His free agent contract does make him the first former Ranger to sign a professional football deal.

The Bears will host a three-day post-draft rookie minicamp this rookie minicamp May 8th (this Sunday) through May 10th at Halas Hall, the team’s headquarters and practice complex in Lake Forest, Illinois. This where the team will get its first look at the 2015 draft class and its undrafted free agents.  The camps are held prior to the NFL’s Rookie Development Program which begins at the conclusion of the mini-camps.

Braunecker’s pre-draft stocked soared after his performance at the league’s combine workouts in February in Indianapolis.   Ben was in the top five in seven assessed categories at the combine; and was first in vertical jump (35 1/2″) and 60-yard shuttle (4.20).  Braunecker also had the third most reps among all tight ends in the bench press. WEEI Radio in Boston says his shuttle time was the best at the combine for tight ends since 2003.

CBS Sports ranked Braunecker as the sixth best tight end prospect going into the draft.

This past season at Harvard, Braunecker had 48 receptions for 850 yards and eight touchdowns which led the team in both categories.

If Braunecker is able to make the Bears 2016 roster, he would become a teammate of Jay Cutler, a former standout at Heritage Hills High School who is the Bears starting quarterback.

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