The Chicago Bears’ critical offseason of talent acquisition has one more – very important – step: The Draft.
After GM Ryan Pace added several starting-caliber players to short-term deals in free agency, the organization’s focus now shifts back to the future and long-term health of the organization.
And because of the team’s many needs, we’re going to take a look at some of the best prospects at various positions of interest everyday leading up to the draft.
Positions: Cornerback, Safety
Currently on the roster (2016 Pro Football Focus grade)
- CB Prince Amukamara (76.6)
- CB Cre’von LeBlanc (73.4)
- CB Bryce Callahan (72.6)
- CB B.W. Webb (65.3)
- CB Deiondre’ Hall (51.7)
- CB Marcus Cooper (45.5)
- S Quintin Demps (85.2)
- S Adrian Amos (81.7)
- S Harold Jones-Quartey (72.6)
- S Deon Bush (56.6)
Top 5 Cornerbacks (Pro Football Focus Overall Rank)
- Marshon Lattimore, Ohio State (3)
- Tre’Davious White, LSU (12)
- Jourdan Lewis, Michigan (24)
- Marlon Humphrey, Alabama (25)
- Sidney Jones, Washington (33)
Best of the rest: Gareon Conley, Ohio State (35); Adoree’ Jackson, USC (37); Cordea Tankersley, Clemson (39); Teez Tabor, Florida (40); Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado (48)
Top 5 Safeties (Pro Football Focus Overall Rank)
- Jamal Adams, LSU (5)
- Malik Hooker, Ohio State (8)
- Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut (32)
- Justin Evans, Texas A&M (42)
- Jabrill Peppers, Michigan (45)
Best of the rest: Marcus Williams, Utah (62); Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech (77); Eddie Jackson, Alabama (79); Tedric Thompson, Colorado (82); Budda Baker, Washington (83)
On the surface, it appears as if the Bears don’t have a dire need for secondary help. The team has three cornerbacks (Amukamara, LeBlanc, Callahan) who grade out as at least average, one above average safety (Amos), and another safety (Demps) who grades out as high quality. But looks can be deceiving. This position group has four contributors whose PFF grades were in the below average or poor range. And while the Bears plucked Amukamara, Cooper, Webb, and Demps out of free agency, no one from this group signed a deal for longer than three years.
The Bears used free agency to plug short-term holes, and put themselves in position to address the position’s long-term needs in the draft.
Most Likely to be Available When the Bears Are on the Clock:
Depending on what the San Francisco 49ers do with the second pick, the Bears could be open to taking any of the top defensive back prospects in this draft. The Bears could choose to address the secondary with Lattimore – the draft’s top corner – or choose between the draft’s top safeties with either Adams or Hooker. The team could also choose to wait until the middle rounds to add to the mix in the defensive backfield. There are 18 cornerbacks and 12 safeties within PFF’s top-100 draft prospects.
If I Had to Pick One:
Jamal Adams might be the most polished product on the board. He has shown the ability to make plays in the box against the run and cover receivers and tight ends in pass plays. Why he only came away with five interceptions in his college career is a question worth asking, especially when considering his future role on a team that forced only 11 turnovers in 2016. Even still, the combination of intangibles and physicality make him a top-notch talent the Bears might not be able to afford passing up.
As for cornerbacks, Adoree’ Jackson intrigues me on multiple levels. While he doesn’t have the size or strength to star on the outside, he could be an impact player as a nickel cornerback. It’s not a sexy position, but it is still an important one because of how often the Bears will play against a three wide receiver set – especially when facing the Green Bay Packers or Detroit Lions. Add his skills as a return specialist to what he can do as a cornerback and Jackson is a player who could kill two birds with one stone with one draft pick.