Carolina Panthers' 2012 NFL Draft: Ryan Van Bergen's Chances of Making the Team

Nader Ktait@@NaderKtaitCorrespondent IIMay 7, 2012

Ryan Van Bergen (Michigan)
Ryan Van Bergen (Michigan)

Former Michigan defensive end Ryan Van Bergen didn't think he was going to go undrafted in the 2012 NFL Draft. Unfortunately, the NFL is full of surprises and disappointments.

According to one source, the Houston Texans had initially told Van Bergen that they were really interested in drafting him in the sixth round. Of course, they weren't the only ones that were interested. In fact, Van Bergen said he spoke to the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens, John Harbaugh, about possibly joining their squad.

It must have been difficult for Van Bergen when he didn’t hear his name called throughout the entire draft. But shortly after that disappointment, Van Bergen notified the world through his twitter account that he had joined the Carolina Panthers as an undrafted free agent.

There were number of teams interested in signing Van Bergen as a free agent. However, Van Bergen decided to join the Panthers immediately after the draft.

Many people (especially Michigan fans) are probably surprised that Van Bergen didn't get drafted. At 6'4" and 290 lbs, Van Bergen started three years at Michigan, after only starting in one game as a redshirt freshman. He played 18 games as a defensive tackle and then 20 games as defensive end.

Though he wasn't the most recognized defensive player at Michigan, Van Bergen was quite productive on the field. He recorded 12.5 tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks in his senior year. He finished his college career with a total of 134 tackles, 26.5 tackles for a loss, and 13.5 sacks.

During his college career, Van Bergen earned a series of awards and recognitions. Van Bergen was named the Big Ten Conference Co-defensive Player of the Week and was also an honorable mention All-Big Ten Conference selection.

Van Bergen has the size and strength to play as a defensive tackle or defensive end in the NFL. He plays with a lot of intensity and energy. He has some weaknesses, though.

Van Bergen's speed has been an issue, as well as his ability to shake off a block and create some distance between himself and an offensive guard. He will definitely need to work on these skills if he wants to play in the NFL.

Unfortunately, Van Bergen wasn't invited to the NFL combine, but he did manage to get some more attention after running a 4.90 40-yard dash at the University of Michigan's pro day.

In my opinion, Van Bergen's chances of making the roster are fair. Van Bergen will be entering an interesting situation in Carolina. As the Panthers get closer and closer to the 2012 season, they will need to find ways of improving their defensive line and whether that means improving the defensive tackle or defensive end position, Van Bergen could definitely add depth to both positions.

Van Bergen's lack of recognition in the NFL draft may also help his chances of making the roster. Though he was effective in his college career. he hasn't received any attention as a rookie entering the NFL. If Van Bergen uses his situation as motivation (and not a form of discouragement) he may be able to get Ron Rivera's attention before the 2012 NFL season begins. 

As one source reports, Van Bergen may be playing with a chip on his shoulder, and that's exactly the way he should play if he wants to play for the Carolina Panthers.