Cornerbacks for Bears to Watch at Scouting Combine
The only cornerback drafted by Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace before the sixth round was Deiondre Hall in 2016, and they quickly put him into their safety competition.
Hall remained a safety through a suspension for a league substance violation and a career path taking him to Philadelphia and Tampa Bay since the start of the 2018 season.
Free agency and Phil Emery made it possible so Pace didn't need to select a cornerback who could actually play.
Pace did find a few cornerback gems in the undrafted pile like Bryce Callahan, he of many injuries, and Kevin Toliver. They picked Duke Shelley and Stephen Denmark last year but Denmark is buried on the practice squad without anyone really specifying he's a cornerback or safety and Shelley got on the field for eight defensive snaps.
With Prince Amukamara's salary cap situation weighing heavily on the Bears' future, Pace finally may be forced to show he knows what a real cornerback is.
With two second-round picks, the Bears certainly can find a cornerback of premium quality.
No doubt the Bears would love it if the draft followed a course like last year, when no one took a cornerback until Pick No. 30 and Deandere Baker.
Then six of the first 14 picks in Round 2 were cornerbacks and all six started double-digit games last season.
With Ohio State's Jeffrey Okudah, Florida's CJ Henderson, LSU's Kristian Fulton and Alabama's Trevon Diggs mentioned prominently in mocks as first-rounders, here is what could be available to the Bears in Round 2.
Based on scouting reports and projections, the Texas Christian senior could go just before the Bears make their first pick. At 6-foot, 183 pounds, he's physically smaller than the cornerbacks labeled probable first-rounders. However, Sports Illustrated's Kevin Hanson said "...he plays with a more physical presence than his listed weight would suggest." A player who can go get it, he made five interceptions and 37 pass breakups at a school which regularly faces potent passing attacks. off field
Called a little too handsy by Thedraftnetwork.com, Utah's 6-foot, 195-pounder definitely is someone who could improve his technique but has all the physical tools. He had good experience playing a slot position as well as outside, and is said to need to be a more physical tackler before he can be mentioned with the elite corners of this draft. He had seven interceptions and 21 pass breakups.
The Ohio State senior has the background to succeed, coming from a school which annually produces top cornerbacks for the draft. He has decent size at 6-foot, 195 and Walterfootball.com says he reminds them of Ravens first-round pick Marlon Humphrey, although they doubt he'll go so early in the draft. His willingness to compete for the ball is considered a great strength. What was called a lack of maturity led him to return to school after a call from Cris Carter, and he played as a fifth-year senior while toughing out a broken wrist suffered just before the season to play all year.
He succeeded in a strong defense as a 6-foot, 190-pound junior last year and finished a three-year career with six interceptions and 13 breakups. The need to be a more physical tackler is pointed out by several scouting sites, and only this could keep him from being a late first-rounder.
A junior from Mississippi State, he finished with five interceptions and 20 pass breakups against tough SEC competition. At 6-2, 185, he knows how to use his height and arm length well but needs to add some weight and strength and become a little more technically sound. It's been suggested by a few draft sites that the combine 40 will be especially big for him.
This one will take some projection because he has been playing the defensive side exclusively only for the past two seasons. He switched from wide receiver but the 5-11, 200-pounder showed an ability to take his athletic ability to cornerback. He had an interception and 18 pass breakups for his career so with only a minor amount of video on him they'll need him to be a big success at the combine.
Virginia's 6-1, 200-pound senior is going to be a leap of faith for some in the draft because he had season-ending left ankle surgery in October a year after leading the nation in pass breakups (22) and attaining All-American status. He's only likely to participate in interviews at the combine, but had some first-round grades heading into his senior year.
He could be a wild card in the draft, after flashing first-round skills as a slot cornerback. He didn't play enough for some scouts and had four interceptions and 14 passes defensed. Most NFL slot cornerbacks are smaller in stature but Wade is 6-1, 194 and puts his length to good use.
Notre Dame's junior didn't have the size of many of the top cornerbacks (5-11, 193), but delivered with an outstanding week at the Senior Bowl. It addressed some of the questions about whether he could be physical enough. His ability to know where the ball is and make a play on it is a strength. He made four interceptions with 18 passes defended in his Irish career.
Oklahoma State's 6-1, 199-pounder has the size and production with six interceptions and 21 passes defensed in a four-year college career. Scouts have suggested he needs to show up in the bench and be a more physical run supporter.
UCLA's cornerback who has been commended for an ability to be physical, but must answer questions about his speed and coverage ability. Despite the concern over whether he could be outside in coverage, the 5-10, 192-pound junior made eight career interceptions with 17 passes defensed.
A real ball hog, who came away with 14 interceptions for three seasons, although it wasn't against power conference receivers. He had a whopping 34 passes defensed, as well. His size is a major liability and teams view him as a likely nickel, at 5-9 183. He wouldn't be the first starting outside cornerback lacking ideal size, though.