Kyle Fuller, Virginia Tech (Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT via Getty Images)
The Chicago Bears made Kyle Fuller the second cornerback off the board in Round 1, taking the Virginia Tech product at No. 14 overall.
Justin Gilbert's selection by the Browns at No. 8 threatened to set off a run of players in the secondary, with Minnesota, Detroit and Tennessee following them. However, no other defensive back was picked until Chicago hit the clock, leaving Fuller, Darqueze Dennard and every safety there for the taking.
Chicago opted for Fuller, who was right up there as a top cornerback. He should see the field immediately.
Strengths: Fuller is really good with his feet — he can stick with a receiver through any stutter or foot fake, and he transitions fluidly to coverage. Backpedals well and turns his hips in time to stay on his target. Fuller plays off-coverage like a pro and understands pattern reading, which makes him great outside or in the slot. He might be the best at his position in this draft class when it comes to closing on routes and following through to break up the play. Fuller is fast anyway (ran a 4.49-40 at the combine), but his awareness of technique and his quick closes on angles make him look even quicker on the field. Not a dominant tackler per se, but will sell himself out to stop a play and excels at inline and slot blitzes.
Plays well in the slot and has the size (6-0, 198) to deal with bigger receivers and some tight ends. Extends to inside position and can trail receivers in the slot and outside. Gets vertical very well and knows how to time his jumps. Recovery speed isn’t Olympian, but it’s good enough. Played linebacker depth against Georgia Tech in 2013 and split through different gaps with pass and run blitzes.
Weaknesses: Due to the aggressive nature of his play, Fuller will occasionally bite on play-fakes, play-action and double moves, but this isn’t a major problem. And he addressed the injury concerns with his combine performance.
Plain and simple, the Bears had to address their secondary. Cornerback is a good place to start, with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings both aging rapidly and minimal depth in place. The need for a versatile CB comes even more into play in the NFC North, with Green Bay and Detroit capable of spreading the field through the air (and Minnesota trending in that direction, too).
Was Fuller a better option than Dennard? Maybe not, but the Bears no doubt ranked him higher and have to be thrilled with this result.