The Bears brought back both of last season’s starting corners, Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, but they are both on the wrong side of 30 and the Bears could use an influx of youth at the position. Nickel corner Isaiah Frey showed flashes of competence last year and Kelvin Hayden is a solid option as the Bears 4th corner. There is enough talent at the position to be good in 2014, but the Bears need to be proactive and draft some talent for 2015 and beyond. In my opinion it is not as urgent of a need as DT, S, or LB but this is a very deep draft for corners and the Bears could pick up a solid developmental player on day 2 or even day 3.
Over the next two days I will be listing the players I like best for the Bears in every round at each position of need.
CB Depth Chart:
Tim Jennings, Charles Tillman, Isaiah Frey, Kelvin Hayden, Demontre Hurst, Derricus Purdy, C.J. Wilson
Round 1 (#14) – Darqueze Dennard, Michigan St (5’11, 188): Dennard answered any questions about his straight-line speed at the combine with a 4.55 40-time. He will have an adjustment period as he figures out how much of his physical coverage tactics will be allowed at the NFL level, but his instincts, solid technique and toughness should earn him a starting job before the end of his first season. Dennard is better against the run than the other top options and a better fit for the Bears scheme.
Round 2 (#51) – Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska (6’3, 218): He’s 6’3, ran a 4.46 40 at his pro day and has a 41.5″ vertical leap. Measurements like those don’t come along very often at the corner position. It’s not like he is just a workout warrior either, Jean-Baptiste had 6 interceptions and 21 pass breakups in just 17 starts and was 2nd team all Big-Ten last season. Jean-Baptiste’s technique is raw, he has only played corner for two years after switching from wide receiver before his sophomore season at Nebraska. I was impressed with SJB’s instincts breaking on the ball at the Senior Bowl and he has excellent ball skills from his days as a wide out. He’s inconsistent against the run but has shown sings of being a big hitter. SJB is a great fit for the Bears zone scheme and could possibly move over to free safety. I had hoped SJB might fall to the 3rd round, but he has been rising up draft boards this week and is rumored to be in play at the end of the 1st round.
Round 3 (#81) – Antone Exum, Virginia Tech (6’0, 213): Was a top 50 prospect before subsequent injuries to his ACL and ankle kept him on the sidelines for most of his senior year. Exum is a versatile defensive back; He played slot corner as a freshman, free safety as a sophomore, and was an outside corner as a junior. His junior year he had 5 interceptions, 16 pass breakups, 2 forced fumbles, and was considered a better NFL prospect then CB Kyle Fuller who I have as a late first round pick. Exum is built like a safety and that might be the position he ends up at in the NFL, but Exum has the athleticism to be a corner in a zone or press scheme. Wherever he ends up, Exum can be a big-hitter in run support and an aggressive coverage guy with the size to match up with the league’s taller receivers. His recent injury problems are an obvious risk and he is rumored to have some “coachability” issues, but Exum has day 1 talent and could be a steal in the mid rounds.