If the Bears decided to wait until the third round to take a safety, they could still find a potential starter. Post-combine some scouting services have rated about four prospects as third rounders. They include Florida’s Marcus Maye (FS), Texas A&M’s Justin Evans (SS), NC State’s Josh Jones (FS) and Saint Francis’ Lorenzo Jerome (SS).
Which two of these guys would be the best for the Bears to consider if they grabbed a safety in the third round?
The Viking Age
Florida’s Marcus Maye came into college as a highly-touted recruit and ended up having a strong collegiate career. He had a very good 2015 campaign but missed some time due to an injury (broken arm). He’s came back and did well in 2016. He is now ready to show the NFL, and potentially the Bears, what he can do.
Maye stands 6’0” and weighs 210 pounds. He should come into the league as a free safety and the Bears could start him there.
NFL.com has some good things to say about Maye. They say:
"Ready-made safety frame with muscular build and long arms. Really instinctive with above-average field vision and feel for the game. Eyes dart back and forth from quarterback to receiver. Correlates quarterback’s eyes and actions to a corresponding route and gets the early jump. Plays with good pattern recognition from both man and zone. Credited with a pass breakup or interception on more than 21 percent of his targets as a starter. Has speed to burst from sideline to sideline. Rangy tackler with in-play endurance for extended chases across field. Welcomes physical aspects of position. Sheds blockers quickly. Showed improved patience and diligence as tackler. Trustworthy as last line of defense."
One thing that Maye struggles with is giving up scores. He had ten touchdowns scored on him while he was in college and he can’t afford to give up big plays in the NFL. He won’t be a starter if he does that and the Bears don’t need another Chris Conte. His mechanics could use some work and he needs to do better in pass coverage.
The other third round rated safety the Bears might be interested in is Evans. He will enter the league as a strong safety and brings great athleticism to the position. His mechanics are solid and he loves the game. He’s able to jump up and snag the ball over top of the receiver’s head (and out of their reach) and was comes into the league with good production in college. Evans can tackle well and hits the ball carrier hard.
On his negative aspects, Pro Football Focus says:
"Lacks the strength to consistently bring down bigger ball carriers. Too aggressive – he overcommits to everything, leaving him susceptible to double moves in coverage, as well as cutbacks by runners. Looks sloppy, off balance in transition at times because he does not use a proper back pedal and tends to get his feet crossed up."
Evans will not recognize plays quickly at times and can be late getting in on stopping running backs. Like some players that are overly-aggressive, he can get picked on with play action fakes. He can struggle breaking away from bigger blockers and may need to gain a little more weight. Evans’ aggressive style and smaller body could make him prone to injuries in the NFL.
Chicago needs someone who can stay healthy and develop into a reliable player at the safety position. Both guys are good but both have some issues. Evans’ aggressive style could keep him on the trainer’s table more and Maye has some question marks with his on the field performance.
So, which one of these guys would be the better choice?
Evans could bring another dimension to the Bears giving them a hard-hitting safety who can make a lot of plays. There is an injury risk but if he can stay healthy, he might be a big find for them in the 2017 NFL Draft.