Bears rookies Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker continue to impress
Credit to BearsWire

I admittedly did not like the second round of the Bears draft. The Bears had three major weaknesses going into draft day. In order, they were Offensive Line, Wide Receiver, and the secondary. The Bears opted to focus entirely on their secondary. That’s life- I’m not in the room with Ryan Poles. This just seems to be the price of hiring a defensive minded head coach- you fix his unit first, young, unprotected quarterback be damned.


That said, with the fog of war that is the Draft subsided, I can analyze what Poles did more clearly. This secondary was indeed not up to snuff. Though we happen to be in a comparatively weak receiver division- Justin Jefferson is the only name that scares me when scanning rival depth charts- no starting candidate at safety or two of three corner spots struck me as deserving of an unquestioned starter spot. And yet the team seems now set, and set for a breakout year at that. If everything works out right, this secondary could take advantage of the weak receiver division and post impressive metrics, as long as the also less-than-stellar D-line lets them.



Depth Chart Projection


LCB: Jaylon Johnson- Thomas Graham


Jaylon Johnson is here to stay, regardless of whatever is going on at OTAs right now. There is no feasible alternative, and whatever his transgression (perhaps he was just late, like he himself complained about having been punished for last year) that knocked him back to second team I expect it to be cleared up by Opening Week. He’s the best man corner this team has and the closest thing to an alpha. Behind him, I expect Thomas Graham to hold down the first depth spot. He not only looked good in limited action last year but was a Senior Bowl standout that impressed multiple offices across the league with his surprisingly effective press (for his height) and short area mirroring. Perfect for Cover 2.


FS: Eddie Jackson- DeAndre Houston-Carson- Elijah Hicks

Eddie needs to figure it out. New office, new eyes, and a big contract that will look ripe to be trimmed going into 2023. He needs to impress- and he’s going to be asked to do it behind the worst front seven he’s ever played for. I think Ryan Poles will prefer $13 million to a declining 30-year-old with effort and tackling issues. Eddie’s ability to prove himself anew over this season will therefore be a storyline to follow. DHC will continue to nip at his heels, serving well as a dime backer and backup safety like he has for the last six seasons- while he’s likely not the future, he’s a reminder of the bloat of Eddie’s contract. I expect neither guy to be here next year, but for now they make up a serviceable duo that keeps the safety outlook positive. Hicks is one my favorite picks from the Bears Day 3- versatile, intelligent, hard hitting. The Eberflus model is beginning to emerge- and when you can see a front office tailoring their additions for their coaches prototypical model, you can begin to expect the scheme to enhance players past their pedigrees.


SS: Jaquan Brisker- Dane Cruikshank


As readers of my Draft Recap remember, I love Jaquan Brisker the player. He is a prototypical strong safety who’s phenomenal in run support, well suited in short area man coverage, and instinctive in zone. I expect him to excel right away. His lack of range should be masked by the speed of his running mates (part of the upside of the Kyler Gordon addition), and he shouldn’t wilt in big games. This pick alone took our secondary from back five to mid-teens. Cruikshank, who would have likely had to start if the Bears had addressed safety later, is a plus athlete whose ability to fill in at either spot is his biggest gift. He’s never put it all together and it would be a shock to see it now, but in case of injury I would not be afraid of him stepping on the field.


RCB: Kyler Gordon- Lamar Jackson


I did not like the Kyler Gordon pick. He fell for a reason- concerns about injury, concerns about fit, concerns about consistency. And for the Bears, he didn’t make much sense- another undersized athlete corner with health and consistency issues. There’s a good chance he’s a higher pedigree Kindle Vildor- who I am projecting to be cut. That is worrying! But- his upside is far higher than Vildor’s. Struggling to be consistent on a Power 5 team shifting you across positions and coverages is less damning than doing the same at Georgia Southern. The other option at this spot was likely keeping Vildor. So, whatever my reservations, this is to be understood as an improvement. And if Gordon hits (his instincts in phase and impressive vertical give him the ability to post flashy interception numbers in a distinctly non-Vildor fashion), we’re set in Chicago- and that’s a promising notion. At the backup spot, I have Jackson beating out Vildor for one reason- he’s 6’2. This is a tiny DB room- on the occasions where another team starts trotting out basketball team sets to take advantage, Jackson can take Gordon’s place while perhaps Gordon slides inside.


SLCB: Tavon Young- Gordon/Graham/Houston-Carson/Hicks


Tavon Young is a prototypical, multi-skillset slot corner who should hold this spot down with ease. This signing was a huge boon to my opinion of Ryan Poles offseason. Targeting undervalued players to potentially bloom in positive roles bodes well for Pace’s ability. Young’s only downside is injury- and Poles has a huge cast of players who could fill in if that were to strike Young, leaving Duke Shelley, last year’s starter, irrelevant. Gordon played plenty inside in college (and, from my watches, played better there). Swapping one of him and Thomas Graham in there should be an easy fill. Beyond that, the team drafted and re-signed two safeties with hybrid experience on the line of scrimmage in dime (DHC and Hicks). Both could take over the slot full time in a pinch.



This unit went from one of the team’s worst to one of the team’s best- and it is surprisingly young, especially at corner. That’s more than you can say about receiver, o-line, or d-line. There’s a chance for this unit to leave a real impression- now I just hope they do it.

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