- Jeff Dickerson, Chicago Bears beat reporter
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The NFL is filled with players who failed to hear their name called on draft weekend. The Bears alone last summer broke training camp with five undrafted rookie free agents on their 53-man roster.
So the stigma of possibly going undrafted in a few weeks does not bother former Northern Illinois center Scott Wedige, who some teams still might view as a potential late-round selection.
"I had a chance to train not too long ago for a few days with Jeff Saturday and Ryan Diem, who also played his college ball at Northern," Wedige said before a recent workout at Breakaway Athletics in Barrington. "I mean, Jeff Saturday went undrafted out of North Carolina and made what, five Pro Bowls? Saturday told me it's all about finding the right fit. He got lucky and look what happened.
"Diem told me that once you get into training camp, the whole draft thing doesn't matter. He's seen fourth- or fifth-round picks get cut that didn't perform. He said if you perform well in camp, you have a shot to make the 53-man roster. Those words from those two guys really stuck with me."
A two-time first team All-MAC conference selection for the Huskies, the 6-foot-4, 310-pound Wedige didn’t receive an invite to the NFL combine but participated in the NFLPA Collegiate All-Star game in January, which was formerly known as the Texas vs. the Nation game. Wedige then worked out for NFL scouts at the NIU pro day on March 9. He has also spent a good portion of the time leading up to the draft working at guard.
"You sometimes need to be a swing man to make it in this league," Wedige said. "I certainly want to be able to play all three interior line positions."
Several teams have done their homework on Wedige, including the Bears, who put the center through a recent private workout with new offensive line coach Tim Holt.
"Coach Holt was awesome," Wedige said. "I really enjoyed getting to know him. I've also dealt with their [Midwest] scout Jeff Shiver a few times. Overall, I've been really impressed by the Bears. They seem to run a top-flight operation. We'll see what happens. But they've really made a great impression."
Of course, there is the matter of Wedige hailing from Elkhorn, Wis., and being raised in a family of die-hard Green Bay Packers fans.
"Boy, that would be something if I ended up on the Bears," Wedige joked. "It would be a little rough on my family. They always said, if I ever got the chance to play for the Bears, they might not be Bears fans, per say, just Scott Wedige fans. I guess that would be fine by me."
NIU center Scott Wedige isn't concerned with his draft position.