#9 S John Johnson (6’1 | 202 | 4.54)
Team captain and cerebral leader of the Eagles defense. Johnson lacks ideal size, but is a versatile, well-rounded safety prospect. He’s had over 60 tackles and three interceptions in each of the last two seasons.
Johnson is a former corner, so has good ball skills and coverage ability while being an impact hitter in run support. He’s reportedly going to test well at the combine with team sources saying he has a 40″ vertical and runs sub 4.5 consistently in the 40. If Johnson can put up those type of numbers at the combine, he should be a legit mid-round prospect.
The Bears have a desperate need for quality safeties and Johnson has the potential to be a solid starter as a rookie. The Bears haven’t had much luck with day three safeties in the draft, but it’s a deep safety draft this year and because of that Johnson may drop to the fourth or fifth round. Most years he’d go higher, so the Bears could get lucky and find a starting caliber safety like Johnson on day three.
Projection: 4th-5th round
#4 CB William Likely III (5’7 | 175 | 4.36)
Undersized, but extremely explosive corner / returner prospect. Likely’s diminutive stature will likely keep him out of the draft’s first two days, but his speed, quick hips, and acceleration with the ball in his hands should be enough for a team to take a chance on Likely late in the draft.
He might be too small to play corner at the NFL level, but worst case he should be a weapon as a kick and punt returner. While at Maryland, Likely returned two kicks and four punts for touchdowns.
Likely has a shot at cornerback at the next level as well. If he were two-three inches taller he’d probably be a day two pick at corner. In his career with the Terps, he’s got seven picks, 29 pass defenses, 16.5 tackles for loss, and two sacks.
The only decent corners the Bears have right now are both undersized but one of their best, Bryce Callahan, is only an inch or two taller than Likely, so maybe the Bears would be more willing than most teams to take a chance on a short corner. They could certainly use the help at both cornerback and in the return game.
Likely is an elite athlete and I wouldn’t bet on him not making it as a corner in the NFL. Worst case, he’s a legit weapon as a return man right away.
[UPDATE: Likely won’t play in the Quick Lane Bowl due to an ACL tear earlier this season]
Projection: 6th-7th round