PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Cornerback Darqueze Dennard #31 of the Michigan State Spartans celebrates after a play against the Stanford Cardinal during the 100th Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
The NFL Draft will kick-off Thursday night at 8pm, and with that start time looming every closer, Grizzly Detail is taking a look at the different positions that the Chicago Bears could address in the draft, and whether or not they need to make each spot a priority when things get underway at Radio City Music Hall.
In this edition, we take a look at the team’s cornerback situation, and whether or not this could be a viable place to use a first round pick.
The Bears have both of their starting cornerbacks from 2013 back in the fold this year, as Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings each signed new contracts in the offseason. The duo is a solid one, and despite Tillman’s injury struggles last year, their starting group is still good enough to get the job done.
The caveat to that statement, of course, is that both players will need to remain healthy. Tillman isn’t getting any younger, and Jennings is a smallish cornerback that isn’t likely to be relied upon to cover a team’s top receiving threat. The Bears are also shallower at the position than they were in 2013, with Zack Bowman heading to the New York Giants.
Is it that shallowness that means that the Bears have to draft a cornerback in this draft, preferably one in the first few rounds. There are a lot of options in that regard, and the Bears could have some serious decisions to make right off the bat.
The first and foremost guy on the Bears’ list should be Michigan State product Darqueze Dennard. He is a big guy who uses his size to his advantage, and he also has some good speed to go along with it. He does get a bit handsy at the line of scrimmage, latching onto players in a way that could get flagged for pass interference in the NFL, but he is the most complete player available at this position, and would be a great get for the Bears at the number 14 slot.
The other cornerback that’s getting a lot of first round hype is Oklahoma State CB Justin Gilbert. A speed demon who can play one-on-one coverage using his quickness and playmaking ability, Gilbert can also return kicks, which the Bears could covet with the departure of Devin Hester in the offseason. Gilbert could be gone by the time the Bears pick at #14, but if he’s there, it’s going to be tempting for Phil Emery to pull the trigger on him.
If the Bears trade back in the first round, there are a slew of options available to them at corner. Jason Verrett out of TCU has gotten a lot of hype as a late first-round pick, and Bradley Roby out of Ohio State could be another attractive option, as he is a really quick corner who can close out on receivers even if they escape him in coverage.
In the event the Bears decide to address the position later in the draft, there are a few other options that are intriguing. Keith McGill out of Utah is massive at 6-foot-3 and 218 pounds, so there would be no questions about whether or not he could guard the ball over the top, but his speed is a question. Jaylen Watkins from the University of Florida could be another attractive option in later rounds as well.
Round to Address Position: 1st-3rd Round