It’s never too early to look into the crystal ball, especially when your football team is in the midst of a rebuilding phase.
The 2018 NFL Draft is 288 days away, but the start of the college football season is coming in 43 days – meaning that draft prospect watch season is closer than you might think. April’s draft was loaded with cornerback prospects, so much so it came as a surprise when the Chicago Bears didn’t take one. In total, 16 cornerbacks were taken within the first 100 picks. And when it was all said and done, 32 cornerbacks were taken overall.
Again, none were selected by the Bears. But lucky for them, another draft is just around the corner. And in more good news, this crop of cornerbacks seems to be as stacked as the one before it. Over at Draft Breakdown, Jonah Tuls analyzes the most talented players of this year’s class of cornerbacks.
Much like this most recent draft, the top tier is stocked with talent from Florida State’s Tavarus McFadden, who has the size (6-2, 198), speed, and athleticism that make him a rare breed of corner, Louisville’s versatile, do-it-all corner Jaire Alexander, and Virginia’s Adonis Alexander, who is another athletic freak at 6-3. But this trio isn’t the only group of potential impact corners. Tuls breaks down the top candidates into tiers, with four promising senior prospects, wild cards, and small-school sleeper picks. So for a better understanding of the kinds of players to keep an eye on this fall, give Tuls’ piece your full attention.
Using Vegas’ Super Bowl odds to come up with the draft order, Luke Easterling of Draft Wire put together an updated mock draft on Monday. In Easterling’s draft, the Bears pick fourth and select Texas offensive tackle Connor Williams – who we recently mentioned in a set of Bullets as a potential target as the draft’s top tackle. Even though he doesn’t have Chicago choosing a cornerback, Easterling’s early mock has two cornerbacks going in the top 16.
Shoring up the tackle position will be a top priority for the Bears in 2018, it’s likely cornerback is going to be a position of need come next offseason too. GM Ryan Pace re-tooled the position this offseason by signing free agents Prince Amukamara, Marcus Cooper, and B.W. Webb … but two of the three (Amukamara, Webb) signed one-year deals.
As for the returning corners, Cre’von LeBlanc and Bryce Callahan have a nice battle about to take place at nickel back, while Kyle Fuller could be on the roster bubble after missing the entire 2016 season with an injury. Even if Fuller makes the cut and starts the season on the active roster, this is the final year of his contract and he’ll need to prove a lot to a front office that didn’t draft him in order to be viewed as a long-term piece of the puzzle.
During the team’s offseason training activities, the Bears drove home the point that they wanted to create more turnovers – specifically in the secondary. Adding Amukamara and Cooper as cornerbacks, as well as fellow free agent Quintin Demps and fourth-round pick Eddie Jackson to the team’s group of safeties should help in that capacity.
Even still, the Bears could stand to add more youth and upside – not to mention depth – to the secondary.