The Chicago Bears offense had little roar to it in 2016. However, Jordan Howard, a rookie running back out of the University of Indiana, did make the Pro Bowl. But, other than that it was mostly a subpar season. Now, the Bears are hopeful they can get a little change of pace in their back field from North Carolina A&T’s running back, and YouTube sensation, Tarik Cohen.
‘The Human Joystick’ as many call him, is small in stature but big on talent. And, despite the Bears being stacked at running back, he seems like he could be a perfect fit as a change of pace back for Howard.
Jeremy Langford and Ka’deem Carey make up one of the deeper positions on the Bears’ roster. So, it was a bit of a head-scratcher as to why Chicago selected Cohen with the 13th pick in the 4th round of the NFL Draft. But, it’s really a huge sign of just how much the Bears liked the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher (5,619 yards). It’s also a sign that Carey is likely on his way out.
At 5’6″ 179 lbs, Cohen is easily one of the smaller players in the NFL. But, if his college stats are any indication, he will make a big impact at the next level. Here’s some video of the Youtube sensation that had the internet buzzing!
Cohen was one of the most productive running backs at the FCS level the past four seasons. In addition to being the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher, he was also the first three-time conference Offensive Player of the Year and an All-American in 2016, setting a school record with 1,588 yards and 19 touchdowns on 212 carries (37-339, one TD receiving). Cohen was a third-team All-American as a junior (264-1,543, 15 TD’s rushing; 25-217 receiving) and led the MEAC in scoring as well as rushing in 2014 (197-1,340, 15 TD rushing; 25-237, one TD receiving). Though he started only six games as a freshman, Cohen managed to run for 1,148 yards and eight scores on 195 attempts (11-152, one TD receiving).
The North Carolina A&T Aggies enjoyed much success during Cohen’s time on campus in Greensboro. The Aggies shared the MEAC conference title in 2014 and 2015. This past season, they defeated the Kent State Golden Flashes of the MAC. The school’s first victory over an FBS/DIV 1 opponent. And, the first victory over such an opponent in several years by any HBCU. Tarik Cohen’s stats for that game? How about 24 carries for 133 yards, and 9 receptions for 125. He scored one TD on the ground.
As mini-camp begins for the Bears, Tarik Cohen is now donning the number ’29’. One digit up from the ’28’ he wore in college. Here’s a snap from the Bears Snapchat of him leading his teammates onto the field to prepare for the first day of mini-camp:
The obvious NFL comparison for Tarik Cohen is the Eagles’ Darren Sproles. Ironically, both Sproles and Cohen were selected in the 4th round. Sproles, being the 130th selection by the San Diego Chargers in 2005. Cohen, actually went a little earlier at pick 119. Most draft experts say this was too early to select Cohen. Especially, for a Bears squad that’s stacked at running back more than they are at most other positions. If Cohen comes close to being as good as Sproles, the pick will be proven to be the correct move.
Of course, the Bears first-round selection, Mitchell Trubisky is the pick gaining most of the headlines. Trubisky, the controversial second pick overall out of North Carolina, will be vying to be the starting QB at some point this season. That means head coach John Fox could have two rookies make a huge impact offensively. That would be great news for Bears’ fans who are suffering through some difficult times with their favorite team. One thing’s for sure, it won’t be difficult for them to fall in love with Tarik Cohen.