The Chicago Bears need more talent at the cornerback position, and luckily for them, the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft is full of talented options.
The cornerback position was a major headache last season for the Chicago Bears. Due to injuries, inexperience, or simply poor play, Bears cornerbacks proved to be one of the biggest weaknesses on the team. General manager Ryan Pace knew he had to address the position in the offseason, so he went after elite corners A.J. Bouye and Stephon Gilmore. Unfortunately, the team missed on both, so Plan B had to be carried out.
Apparently Plan B was to sign as many bodies as possible. After re-signing some of their own players, the Bears also signed Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper to lucrative deals. Amukamara (one-year, $7 million guaranteed) and Cooper (three-years, $8 million guaranteed) figure to be the starters, but even those players have question marks. Amukamara has battled injuries his entire career, and Cooper has only one good year of production under his belt. Both are clear upgrades at the position, but more is still needed.
Luckily for the Bears, this is a deep draft for cornerbacks and there are a ton of high-quality options:
Lattimore is the premier cornerback prospect in this year’s draft. He has good size and speed, excellent awareness, and is technique-sound. Lattimore does a great job of tracking the ball in flight, leading to interceptions and pass break ups. A willing tackler, Lattimore helps in run support and can bring a wide receiver to the ground with ease. There’s not a lot to critique with Lattimore’s game, and that’s why he’s considered a top-five pick.
Tre’Davious White, LSU
A very physical player, White can cover not only wide receivers but tight ends as well. His physical style can lead to penalties, and his speed isn’t great, but White excels at diagnosing routes and breaking on the ball. He has improved every year in college, and his high ceiling should make him a first-round lock.
Teez Tabor, Florida
Tabor has excellent size and athleticism for the position, and his short area burst really stands out on film. He has elite ball skills and routinely breaks up passes. Tabor is not a very physical player, and his run support and tackling are suspect, but those things can be corrected. Tabor has some flaws, but he should be a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
Gareon Conley, Ohio State
A very polished player, Conley displays the ball skills, instincts, and speed to be an elite cornerback at the next level. Conley is very effective in both zone and man coverage, and his effort is unquestioned. His tackling could use some work, but Conley should still be a late first/early second-round pick.
Wilson’s biggest strengths are his height and bulk. Better in zone coverage than man, Wilson loves to locate the ball and run downhill to break the pass up. His speed is not great, and he does get burned by faster receivers, but Wilson has the physical tools to be a very solid NFL starter. Wilson should be picked fairly early in the second-round.
Adoree’ Jackson, USC
When watching Jackson, the first word that comes to mind is explosion. Possessing elite athleticism and speed, Jackson is a phenomenal kick/punt returner who has also dabbled on the offensive side of the ball. His small frame, poor eye discipline, and suspect technique will push him down the board, but Jackson has the potential to be a Pro Bowl returner in 2017, and that alone will probably make him a second-round pick.
Marlon Humphrey, Alabama
With an excellent size-speed combination, Humphrey could be a draft day steal. He mirrors receivers extremely well, and his press coverage is awesome to watch. He sometimes struggles with double-moves and his ball skills are iffy, but Humphrey has all of the physical traits to develop into an elite cornerback. Humphrey has received some first-round buzz, but he’s more likely to come off the board in the second-round.
Kevin King, Washington
King has elite height, but if you look at him from the side, he disappears. His small frame proves to be a challenge against physical receivers, but King has good press coverage skills and holds his own against faster receivers. He’s raw, but given some time, King could develop into a very solid starter. He’ll most likely be a second-round pick.
Jones was generating first-round buzz before he suffered a torn Achilles at his pro day, so his draft stock is quickly plummeting. Before the injury, Jones displayed smooth feet, good awareness, and great effort. If the Bears want to take a risk in the third or fourth round, it would be a risk worth taking. If Jones returns to full strength, he could be the ultimate draft day steal.