Northwestern offensive tackle signs with Chicago Bears


Gunnar Vogel signed with the Chicago Bears following the 2021 NFL Draft.

Gunnar Vogel, an offensive tackle from Northwestern University, signed as an undrafted free agent with the team closest to his college home, the Chicago Bears. However, Covid-19 cancelations nearly cost him a ticket to the NFL.  

“A couple of games in [my junior year] I ended up blowing out my shoulder,” Vogel said. “I played an additional four games with a busted shoulder so I wasn’t playing as well as I could have been. I knew if I was gonna take the shot I was going to need another year of starting, healthy, under my belt. It was an emotional rollercoaster.”

Vogel was unable to start every game until his fifth-year senior season — which was originally cancelled due to the pandemic. Luckily for Vogel, the Big Ten reversed their original decision to cancel football for his fifth-year season and allowed them to start playing on Oct. 24. 

The journey for Vogel, however, did not start there. 

Vogel played high school football in Columbus, Ohio, where he only allowed two sacks on varsity. As a three-star recruit, he received multiple Division-1 offers until he ultimately decided on Northwestern.

“When I was in high school, my goal was to get Division-1 offers,”  Vogel said. “And then it became I wanted to play in the Big Ten. When I got to Northwestern, my goal was to become a starter, and then my junior year I realized I could make it happen in the league.”

Vogel attributes his success at Northwestern and preparation for the NFL draft to his offensive line coach Kurt Anderson, who the Wildcats brought in during Vogel’s junior season. 

“He was All-Big Ten at Michigan as a center,” he said. “He coached at Arkansas and then he also coached in the NFL with the Bills. When he came in he brought a lot of advanced NFL techniques.” 

The hard work and coaching paid off for Vogel and Northwestern’s offensive line. They gave up the 24th least amount of sacks per game in the country with 1.4 sacks per game, and helped the offense gain an average of 360 yards per game. Vogel was finally prepared to take his chances in the NFL draft.

During the final picks of the NFL draft, Vogel got some calls. 

“Miami, Arizona and Chicago were the top three I was considering,” he said. “I had a lot of good conversations with coach [Juan] Castillo, the offensive line coach for the Bears. I was confident that was a spot I was gonna be able to land.”

And land it, he did. Vogel signed with the Bears as an undrafted free agent. 

The Bears focused on building an offensive line this offseason. Last year, they gave up the 16th most sacks in the NFL and ranked 25th in adjusted-line rushing yards. The Bears knew they needed offensive line help, and made it a priority in the draft.

General manager Ryan Pace brought in highly-touted recruits Teven Jenkins and Larry Borom, but also a few undrafted free agents — Gage Cervenka, Daurean Parker, and Vogel.

Head coach Matt Nagy and his staff are not shy giving their undrafted free agents a chance too. Last season, Bears fans saw Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars receive plenty of playing time, both of whom were once undrafted free agents out of Notre Dame. 

Next, Vogel is headed to the Bears OTA (official team activities) offseason workouts from May 25-27, June 1-3, and 7-10 following a rookie minicamp last week. The mandatory minicamp goes from June 15-17. Vogel has high hopes to prove himself during these team activities. 

“My goal is to come in and compete every day,” said Vogel. “Through competition, you can make your mark, even as an undrafted free agent.”