Chicago Bears NFL Draft: Draft Grade of cornerback, Tyrique Stevenson
The Chicago Bears traded up five spots in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft in order to select cornerback Tyrique Stevenson out of the University of Miami (FL). They gave up their fifth-round pick in this year's draft to the Jacksonville Jaguars in order to select who they most likely believe to be a potential starting boundary corner.
Chicago Bears Draft Grade: Tyrique Stevenson, CB - Miami
Cornerback was definitely a sneaky need for the Chicago Bears. While Ryan Poles used his two second-round picks on the secondary last season, there is still a lack of depth and a lack of a third starting corner, whether it be a nickel or boundary. Many Bears fans wanted John Michael Schmitz in this spot because of how mature he is as a prospect at his position. He would have been a great choice too, but it is clear that center was not as important of a need to Poles and his staff as another cornerback was. Schmitz went one spot later to the New York Giants.
While Stevenson has many pros and cons, he is at his roots a press-man corner. This is an interesting fit in the cover-two scheme that Matt Eberflus runs, but he will definitely be an asset on the boundary with his size and above-average athleticism. He stands at six feet tall and weighs just under 200 lbs. He also has long arms for a cornerback, which helps explain his skills as a press-man corner.
He is a big physical cornerback who should complement Jaylon Johnson nicely across the field. He plays strong at the press and does a good job of slowing down a receiver's release. With the way receivers are getting off the line in the modern NFL, this is a key asset to a defense. He also jumps well and is good at distracting a receiver's hands at the high point of a catch attempt. His vertical leaping ability also helps him in this area. His confidence also helps him as he is good at staying poised in coverage, especially in press.
The problem with his play is that he can be too prone to using physicality in press which can lead to overextending and having to chase a receiver. He struggles to recognize plays and routes at times, so film study for him will be of extra importance. He will also get lost in off-man at times, which could be a problem in a cover-two defense.
As a run defender, there is plenty of room to improve, but his physicality helps to make up for some poor tackling and pursuit angles. It will be an adjustment to the NFL and he might not be a starter right away. He will have to rely less on hand usage in press coverage because NFL referees could get him for some unwanted pass interference penalties that were not always called in college.
It is clear that Ryan Poles and the Chicago Bears were going for athletes that come with NFL ready frames and massive upside. Not all of these second day picks are sure things and there will be a lot of differing opinions for sure. Tyrique Stevenson is a good example of the players that have been selected so far in this draft, because he has great traits and is someone who can come in and compete right away. His weaknesses can cause some room for concern, but it seems like the Bears really wanted him and were willing to give up an extra pick to make sure they got their guy.