Top Cornerback Draft Options for the Bears

The Bears aren't likely to pursue the top three cornerbacks in the NFL draft because of needs to address early on offense but there are plenty options available in this draft at an important position.
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The Bears defense hounded Jared Goff all night, Eddie Goldman recorded a safety, tackle Bradley Sowell caught a touchdown pass and the Bears downed the Los Angeles Rams 16-5.

It was Dec. 9, 2018.

And it was also the last game the Bears had an interception by a starting right cornerback. Prince Amukamara made one in that game. 

As good as Bears right cornerback Jaylon Johnson seemed for 13 games last year, his performance fluctuated greatly at times through the second half of the season and he never did make an interception. 

Then he was unavailable when they needed him most during the final two games of a three-game winning streak and in the playoffs. The Bears also happened to be missing slot cornerback Buster Skrine at the time, as well. So their secondary received a severe test.

It's said every year across the league and is always true. Baltimore GM Ernie DeCosta was among the last to say it when assessing his team.

"And what we learned this year, again, is you can never have enough corners. We say it every year, but this year was a great example," DeCosta said.

If not him, then Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson expressed it last season when his team signed Amukamara: "You can never have enough DBs."

So just because the Bears have Johnson, Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley they could still look for talent at this position. Kyle Fuller's last contract year is 2021, so they may need to look at the future.

Johnson might even be better suited to the slot considering the excellent man-to-man skills he displayed last year, and the Bears most likely need to replace Buster Skrine there anyway.

The draft has plenty of cornerbacks and BearDigest.com has already studied the slot cornerback options.

Based on FanNation's NFL Draft Bible, each of the first three rounds should have four cornerbacks going off the board.

With obvious needs on offense, the Bears more likely would look early to that side of the ball and wouldn't be in on Patrick Surtain of Alabama, South Carolina's Jaycee Horn or Virginia Tech's Caleb Farley. Those three are consensus top three on the boards of NFL Draft Bible and ESPN's Mel Kiper.

A player who is a bit of a wild card is Syracuse cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu. He has been graded a first-rounder by NFL Draft Bible, but only a fifth-rounder by The Draft Network. Kiper doesn't have him in the top 10, either.

He's what's called a riser, as his stock seems to be getting driven up. It's easy to see why at 6-foot-3, 213. The Bears could use a taller cornerback and Melifonwu made three interceptions and 19 pass defenses at Syracuse.

Others who might be there in Rounds 2 or later:

Kelvin Joseph, Kentucky

Rated a second-rounder by both NFL Draft Bible and Kiper, Joseph is ideal size at 6-1, 192 but there is an experience question because he played only 20 college games and split them between the Wildcats his final year and LSU first. He has played various roles in the secondary but at Kentucky showed up as a play maker with four interceptions.

Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State

Viewed as a second- to third-rounder by most web sites, Samuel is 5-10, 185 and had 29 pass defenses in college, including 14 in 2019. His father is the former Patriot/Falcon/Eagles defensive back. He's viewed by NFL.com's talent assessors as possessing all the physical traits but needs to be bolder in his play maker.

Shaun Wade, Ohio State

Already discussed here as a slot cornerback, he has had experience on the outside as well. At 6-1, 195, many scouts see him as too physically gifted to be playing inside only on passing downs. He could be one of those cornerbacks who plays outside in the base defense, then moves into the slot on passing downs. He made six interceptions and 18 pass defenses at Ohio State and is regarded as the sixth best cornerback by Kiper.

Keith Taylor, Washington

Exceptional size at 6-2, 191, he needs to show more ability to make plays on the ball after a college career with 10 pass defenses and no interceptions. A very solid tackler and he also knows how to use his height edge on the outside in man coverage. He has a top-10 grade from Kiper and NFL Draft Bible, though Pro Football Network has put him well back in its grading system.

Elijah Molden, Washington

Possibly because he's 5-10 and did it well in college, he's viewed by some as a potential slot cornerback for the NFL. In college, he displayed the overall skills to be a standout on the outside but was used extensively inside. Molden flashed great ball instinct and even an ability to bait quarterbacks, according to several scouting reports. He's the son of former NFL defensive back Alex Molden.

Greg Newsome II, Northwestern

Very well known to the Bears, he is excellent ball skills with 20 pass defenses and an interception. What he also has is a durability issue as he played just 17 college games. He was given a third-round grade by NFL Draft Bible and is a top-10 cornerback according to Kiper. Another who has ideal size for playing outside at 6-1, 190.

Aaron Robinson, Central Florida

Played mostly slot cornerback but at 5-11 1/2, 194 is capable of going outside and has some experience at it. He needs to finish more according to scouts, but does a good job breaking up passes and improved as a tackler. Two websites have called him too "grabby" in coverage when he didn't need to be, simply because he has enough athletic ability to keep up with receivers without the help. He had an interception and 16 pass breakups. Kiper calls him the eighth-best cornerback overall while Pro Football Network gave him a third-round grade.

Bryan Mills, N. Carolina Central

Views differ greatly on him but NFL Draft Bible gives him a third-round grade. The reason for fluctuating grades is he played junior college ball at College of Canyons and dominated, but then went to FCS North Carolina Central. So the issues over what kind of competition he faced will persist. At 6-2 he has the height, but badly needs to bulk up after weighing in at 170. The size hampers his tackling ability, although he is a willing tackler. He made five interceptions with eight pass defenses in one seasonw ith NC Central and made All-MEAC first team.

Eric Stokes, Georgia

Graded a possible second-round pick by NFL Draft Bible, he has the type of background Bears GM Ryan Pace likes -- he played at Georgia. Scouts see him as more of a zone coverage cornerback because his man-to-man skills need to be strengthened. An effort guy with a lot of toughness, he has good size at 6-1, 185 and faced strong competition. He made four interceptions, all in his final year, and had 22 total pass defenses.

Paulson Adebo, Stanford

Labeled a good closer by The Draft Network and a potential second-round pick by NFL Draft Bible, he has the size at 6-1, 192 and is said to use his long arms well to swat down passes. A question he'll need to address at the Pro Days is his speed. Walterfootball.com has noted how his skills include an ability to avoid contact while making plays, which is rare in the NFL these days for a cornerback. He made eight interceptions and 27 pass defenses in 2018 and 2019 but then opted out last year.

Tre Brown, Oklahoma

Given a third-round grade from NFL Draft Bible, he is well proven with 31 pass defenses and four interceptions, including three picks last year. Some scouts worry about his size to be on the outside at 5-10, 186, but when he played there he had a nose for the ball and lacked only in some technique issues.

Tyson Campbell, Georgia

Another long cornerback from the Bulldogs who is 6-2, 185 and has relied more on his natural abilities, chiefly fantastic closing speed. He needs technique refinement but has been given a third-round grade by NFL Draft Bible. Made one interception and 10 pass defenses in 31 games.

 LOOK: Where does NFL Draft Bible rank the prospects?

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