Potential Challenger for Duke Shelley

The slot has different demands than outside cornerback and it's a position where the Bears could find one potential steal later in the draft.
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One fact about Bears draft needs rarely discussed is how they actually need two cornerbacks and not one.

Unless they are 100% certain about Duke Shelley as a legitimate NFL nickel cornerback, they need someone to replace Buster Skrine.

In the past, they treated the slot position like an afterthought. They used undrafted free agent cornerbacks Bryce Callahan and Cre'Von Leblanc at the position and it worked out as Callahan became adept enough at it to eventually earn a good-sized free agent deal from Denver.

Signing Buster Skrine helped initially in 2019, but last year he struggled and then was sidelined with a concussion. He was released, and Shelly got an opportunity. Shelley displayed an ability to make open-field tackles, certainly among the necessary components to playing the spot.

Yet, he allowed a passer rating against of 118.7 and 80% completions when targeted according to Sportradar.

The Bears can stand to upgraded the spot or draft someone in a later round to challenge him.

The best slot cornerbacks in this draft might be Elijah Molden from Washington and Ohio State's Shaun Wade. Central Florida's Aaron Robinson is called the best as a slot corner by NFL Draft Bible.

Florida State's Asante Samuel is considered an outside cornerback by some but NFL Draft Bible likes him inside and they believe he's the fourth-best slot candidate.

FanNation and Sports Illustrated analyst Jim Mora Jr. can't disagree about Molden and Wade, but found someone else the Bears might like, as well.

"I think Molden, if you've seen him play, he's got all the attributes to play that position," Mora said. "He's tough as nails. He's extremely smart. He plays great zone defense. He gets his hands on you in man. He's a really good tackler. I think he's instinctive; I think he understands run fits."

Wade came back to Ohio State when he could have gone to the NFL last year, and tried to prove he could play outside cornerback, where the money is better.

"I think he did that to a certain extent, but I think people see his greatest value still as being a slot corner," Mora said.

Samuel is 5-10, 184 and Mora said he might be more of an outside cornerback. Wade is taller, and heavier, though, at 6-1, 195.

A player the Bears might really want to consider is Tre Brown from Oklahoma. At 5-10, 192, he's big enough to handle covering tight ends and a taller receiver who moves down into the slot.

"I think he's a catty, little dude that can make some really good plays — instinctive, good at the ball," Mora said. "Inside, I think he's got some niftyness to help him overcome his size limitations and get him in good positions."

Brown is very similar in size to Callahan, at 5-10, 186. Callahan is 5-9, 188.

Like Samuel, Brown made four career interceptions and three of them last season. In four seasons, he made 31 pass defenses.

NFL Draft Bible calls Brown the ninth-best inside cornerback in the draft, and gives him a sixth-round grade.

A player chosen this late in the draft is far more appealing at the position than one earlier because the Bears have more pressing needs at tackle, wide receiver, outside cornerback and even quarterback for Days 1 and 2 of the draft.

Considering they have four sixth-round picks, it would be easy to see them spending one on a slot cornerback late.

The quality earlier might persuade someone at Halas Hall to think differently, especially with Molden or Wade.

"When I look at college slot players, I'm always going to compare them to two players at that position and that's Ronde Barber and Rod Woodson, two guys that I know very well," Mora said. "I coached Rod Woodson, coached Barber in the Pro Bowl. I see Wade and I see Elijah Molden and in those two guys I see hints of Barber and I see hints of Woodson.

"To me, they were the best ever to do it."

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