Why Jeff Gladney Goes to Bears in Many Mock Drafts
It started when some of the first mock drafts came out in January and even continues into the end of March.
TCU cornerback Jeff Gladney has been a consensus pick in mock drafts to go in the second round to the Bears.
Sports Illustrated, CBS Sports and several other sites at different times have had the Bears selecting Gladney either with the 43rd pick or the 50th in Round 2, and there's a good reason for it, starting with the fact they cut Prince Amukamara and have a need with no one qualified to fill it.
Gladney is projected by many analysts to be available at a level after the first tier of cornerbacks who would go in Round 1, and the Bears have two picks together in that range with a huge need at cornerback.
Gladney might not be an ideal candidate because he is 5-foot-10 and the ideal cornerbacks are coming in 6 feet or taller.
"I play bigger than my size," Gladney told reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine. "Most receivers don't know that. They think they're going to come out there and bully me, but that doesn't go down."
Bullying Gladney would seem to play into his strength, because his style is anything but finesse.
"Very physical," Gladney said. "I go 110 the whole game. I don't play like most corners. I like to stick my nose in everything. I'm just not a cover corner. I like to hit, too."
The strength is obvious in his workout numbers. Gladney reportedly squats 620 pounds and can bench-press 400 pounds. He ran an excellent 4.48-second 40 despite suffering from a meniscus problem which required him to ice the leg right after running. The condition later was cleared up with arthroscopic surgery.
Gladney likes to pattern his game after another physical player, Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. He also said he emulates former TCU player Jason Verrett, the former Chargers defensive back who spent most of last season on injured reserve with the 49ers and Chiefs defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.
"I'm just a physical corner, a physical speed demon," Gladney said. "I'm a man (coverage) corner for sure."
The man-on man challenge is something Gladney enjoys.
"I just like being up in somebody's face," he said. "I feel like that's mano a mano. We're right there together, so the best man wins."
The Bears are more of a zone team and rely less on man coverage and blitzing. They blitzed just 23.5% last year, so they'd rather play back to field the ball and let their four-man pressure apply heat on the quarterback.
Still, playing man coverage is a basic requirement for any cornerback because during passing situations offenses send five receivers in routes and it becomes mostly man-to-man defense.
Gladney has man to man down to a science and while playing it he depends greatly on what he sees on film about receivers.
"Some (receivers) like handsy corners, some guys don't," Gladney said. "If you're a guy who doesn't, I'm really going to use my hands a lot then. If you're looking for that fight at the line, I'll try to mix it up and maybe not throw as much. It just depends on who I'm going against."
Playing in the Big 12 can often act to chase away NFL teams compared to how players from the Southeast Conference or Big 10 are treated. At cornerback and receiver, though, it's not a detriment because the Big 12 is well known as a passing conference. Receivers and defensive backs have had far more repetitions on passes than receivers and defensive backs at other schools.
Gladney called Baylor's Denzel Mims, a potential first-round draft pick the best receiver he went against in those Big 12 games.
"I've been covering Denzel since high school, so this was like my seventh year covering that dude," Gladney said. "It was always a good battle."
If Gladney wanted a daily battle, he only needed to go against Jalen Reagor in practice on a daily basis.
"You can put him anywhere—inside, out, he's going to make something shake wherever he's at on the field," Gladney said.