With GM Phil Emery, it’s become draft commonplace to expect the unexpected with the Chicago Bears. Could he strike again by taking cornerback Kyle Fuller?
Depth behind Charles Tillman may be the most concerning
The first question to ask is why a corner? Most experts project that the Chicago Bears will either target defensive tackle or safety with the 14th overall pick in the NFL draft. It’s a fair assessment. Both positions were primarily responsible for the defensive collapse in 2013 and could really use an upgrade in young talent. Names like Aaron Donald, Timmy Jernigan, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor have occupied mock drafts for weeks. Yet upon a deep evaluation of the roster, cornerback might actually be the most troublesome area in terms of depth. The Bears spent considerably at safety in free agency, bringing in veterans like Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings to compete with current starter Chris Conte who is rehabbing a shoulder injury. They also shored up defensive tackle by bringing back Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins and could always slide free agent addition Lamarr Houston inside if they wish. Meanwhile the only notable name brought in at corner was Charles Tillman, who missed eight games last year and turned 33 in February. His running mate Tim Jennings is 30. Outside of them the Bears have no real starting-caliber players. Isaiah Frey and Kelvin Hayden are slot corners and Sherrick McManis is a special teams ace. If Tillman or Jennings were to go down it could create a gaping hole in the secondary they aren’t prepared to fill.
Fuller ranked above Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard on many boards
The second question is why Kyle Fuller? A number of prominent draft site and experts rank him as the third best corner in the 2014 draft class behind Justin Gilbert of Oklahoma State and Darqueze Dennard of Michigan State. Gilbert is an athletic freak who blew up the scouting combine with a blazing 4.3/40-yard dash, plays well in press coverage and is a return specialist as well. Dennard is a relentless, physical leader in the secondary whose coverage abilities helped the Spartans win the Rose Bowl. On top of that Fuller missed half the season in 2013 with a sports hernia. Still, more than a few see the Virginia Tech standout as the most complete corner in the NFL draft. He’s big at 6’0″ with great awareness in zone coverage, has the athleticism and speed for man coverage and unlike most corners is dedicated to his tackling responsibilities. He can play any corner position and also projects as a potential safety too, increasing his versatility. Adding him would instantly ease concerns for the Chicago Bears across the entire secondary, not just cornerback.
Whether they make him the 14th overall pick in the draft remains a mystery.