Experts seem to think that there are three safety prospects that are first round talent. They include Malik Hooker, Jabrill Peppers and Jamal Adams.
Hooker had surgery recently so he will be out for a while. If healthy, Hooker would be a good option, but why take the risk? And because of this surgery, he may drop to the second round. For the purposes of this article, we are going to count him as not in contention for being drafted by Chicago.
That leaves two players, both strong safeties, that the Bears could choose from in the first round. There is Peppers, a strong safety from Michigan and Adams, another strong safety from LSU.
Peppers is a bit of difficult player to figure out. He could either play safety or linebacker and hasn’t really settled on one position. Would the Bears want to take a chance on a guy who doesn’t have a defined position? Perhaps not. But he is talented and would bring a lot to their safety position if he would be a good fit there.
A scouting report from NFL.com says:
"“Athletic and fluid in space with desired change of direction talent. Moves with the changing flow of a play. Willing to sacrifice body to honor contain against run. Jack of all trades. Can play slot, safety or linebacker in sub-packages in any given game. Won’t hesitate to race downhill once he diagnoses run. Hits with as much force as he can muster. Has big closing burst. Runs plays down from sideline to sideline. Able to knife into gaps and make tackles for losses or disrupt runs. Has man cover talent and is physical enough to handle most tight ends. Has enough quickness to match receivers. Aggressively re-routes receivers. Capable blitzer who buzzes in from all angles. Electric return man with ability to charge up crowd and his own sideline with big kick or punt return. Has experience carrying and catching the ball and as wildcat quarterback. Could offer red-zone flexibility on offense.”"
There are some drawbacks to every player and Peppers has a few. He isn’t very instinctive when it comes to covering receivers and tight ends. He can get caught out of position and miss on pass plays. Peppers wasn’t very productive producing turnovers in college has he came up with just one interception.
Adams appears as if he may be the best safety in the 2017 NFL Draft. He has the experience, consistency and exhibits strong leadership with is a desired NFL trait. Could he appeal to the Bears? If so, would he be worth taking at number three or would he be able to be had a little further down in the first round.
The LSU superstar weighs in at 213 pounds and stands 6’1”. He has an NFL pedigree as his father, George, played with the New York Giants. As mentioned, he is a strong leader and helps get his teammates into position prior to the play. Adams can hit hard and had a lot of production at LSU.
Per Pro Football Focus some of Adam’s drawbacks include:
"Still could be more consistent as a tackler. Saw huge improvement in 2016, but still ranked just 32nd among safeties in terms of tackling efficiency. Got caught out of position or over pursuing against the run several times late in the year. Not a consistent problem, but worth noting."
The Bears pick at number three in the first round and neither Adams nor Peppers are worthy of the third overall selection. So, if the Bears decide that they want to go after one of the top safeties in the draft, it is best that they trade down. So, let’s say they decide to do this. Where should they trade down to and who should they target?
With Peppers not being settled at one position and likely slated to be a linebacker in the NFL, Adams should be the guys the Bears go after. Where could they get him? If the Bears traded down into the range between 5-9 they could land him there. In addition to that, he would be a good value somewhere in that range and the Bears could pick up some extra picks in the process.
If Chicago decides to go with a safety in the first round, Adams should be their guy. He would have a huge impact right away and could help stabilize the position for several seasons to come.