Oct 5, 2013; Blacksburg, VA, USA; Virginia Tech Hokies cornerback Kyle Fuller (17) celebrates with safety Kyshoen Jarrett (34) after making an interception in the fourth quarter. The Hokies defeated the Tar Heels 27-17 at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Are the Chicago Bears Targeting Kyle Fuller?

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.

Tags: Charles Tillman Chicago Bears Darqueze Dennard Justin Gilbert Kyle Fuller

  • Tom Ward

    Hmmmm – I keep saying DT at #14 but this guys versatility is interesting. Plus you have to remind me of how much depth we don’t have at corner. Since most rank him as third CB in draft is he one if we traded down we would still be able to get?

    • Erik Lambert

      Mike Mayock actually thinks he’s the best corner in the draft and I trust Mayock far more than Kiper. If we were to trade down I would say it can’t be any further than #20 because the Packers, Eagles, Chiefs and Chargers are all threats to take a corner.

      • Nevin Paustian

        Not sure if the packers are too much of a threat to take a corner back. Ted Thompson has never taken a DB in the first round due to the fact that behind QB’s, DB’s are said to have the toughest time transitioning from college to the NFL. If they keep their 21st pick, i see them going LB like shazier or mosley before going for a DB.

        • Erik Lambert

          Most likely but given their recent string of struggles in replacing Charles Woodson i.e. the ridiculous money they paid Sam Shields I would think they are at the very least considering it. Still, there is also the Bengals to worry about as well.

          • Nevin Paustian

            The Bengals are a legitimate worry because they are old at the CB position. If you break down the Sam Shields deal it is not as ridiculous as you think. They are paying him for what he is: a number one CB who is an ascending player. He played well last year against a lot of solid receivers. He effectively shut down both Josh Gordon and AJ Green as well as other #1 WR’s that he faced. He has improved every year that he has played, he counts only 5 million against the cap this coming season, then 9 the next and 12 for each of the last 2 years of the contract. Obviously, they feel that he has a high ceiling. If he continues to grow then he will earn his money, if he falls back then they will restructure or cut him. Now back to the draft, believe it or not the Packers already have a good amount at depth at the CB position. Shields and Williams are 1 and 2. Casey Hayward was on the I.R. all last year. The year before Hayward was a rookie who finished 3rd in Defensive Rookie of the Year after having 6 interceptions and QB’s having a league low 31.1 QB rating against him. They also have Micah Hyde coming back who had an excellent rookie year last season and they have already stated that he will see a considerable increase in playing time. Davon House is the 5th CB and he has good size and has shown some solid development over the past few years. Williams and Shields were undrafted, Hayward was picked at the end of the 2nd, House was a 4th round pick, and Hyde was a 5th round pick. Thompson believes heavily in developing corner backs and he has had quite a bit of success at it without investing first round picks in it. With the depth and youth that they have at corner, it is highly unlikely that they draft one in the first round.

  • David A Maupin

    Fuller has been a late riser in this year’s mocks. I see him fine by #16. Watching him play throughout his college years and familiar with his recruitment out of HS he truly is an all around Complete corner who I would not be second guessing in the least bit if we drafted him at 14.

    • Erik Lambert

      I wouldn’t mind drafting him at #14 at all but if we can get a couple extra picks and still get him that would be the ideal scenario. The question is are Pittsburgh and Baltimore the biggest threats to take him?

  • Mike

    Yes! Pull the trigger Emery! This guy is a winner who can play the Tyrann Mathieu role at safety and nickel as a rookie. He can take over for Tillman when he retires. I know Emery doesn’t want to go into 2015 free agency with the need to pay big bucks for a cb or have to start a rookie. Let Fuller develop at the pace that defensive backs need while learning from Tillman and Jennings

    • Erik Lambert

      Well, you got what you wanted!