USC cornerback Iman Marshall

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Gabriel: Secondary Prospects Bears Could Target

The Bears' secondary starters are set, but they could look to add depth.

Greg Gabriel
April 16, 2019 - 11:52 am
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(670 The Score) The Bears' secondary took a hit during free agency when they lost starting safety Adrian Amos and nickel cornerback Bryce Callahan. Given how it all played out, it's clear the Bears were prepared to lose both, as they acted quickly in signing replacements in safety HaHa Clinton-Dix and nickel cornerback Buster Skrine. We’ll find out next fall if they're adequate replacements.

With the signing of Clinton-Dix and Skrine, the Bears have a full complement of defensive backs in place as they enter the NFL Draft, which begins April 25. It remains unclear if the Bears will use a pick on a defensive back. If they intend to, here are some prospects to keep an eye on in the middle rounds. The Bears don't own a pick until the third round at No. 87 overall.

Cornerback

Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara and Skrine will fill the Bears' top three cornerback spots. Behind them is Kevin Toliver, an undrafted free agent from last year who held his own in playing 15 games, including one start. The other main reserve is Sherrick McManis, who's primarily a special teams standout. He filled in at slot cornerback late in the season when Callahan was sidelined by injury.

A player on the practice squad to keep an eye on is Michael Joseph, who played collegiately at Division-III Dubuque College. He has the size, speed and athleticism that NFL teams covet but is raw. 

In the draft, quality cornerbacks go early. Just about every year, 12 to 15 cornerbacks will get drafted in the first three rounds, which means that by the time the Bears use the first pick they own, the position will be well picked over. From there, it becomes whether a team can get lucky. From the fourth round and beyond, there are a few notable cornerbacks to keep an eye on for the Bears. USC's Iman Marshall is tall and long with adequate speed (4.53-second 40-yard dash) and good coverage skills.

Iowa State's Brian Peavy and Oregon's Ugo Amadi are shorter cornerbacks who could play in the slot. A tall cornerback who I don’t have rated as highly as others is Penn State’s Amani Oruwariye, who covers well but needs to get stronger so that he can improve his tackling skills and get off blocks.

Safety

All-Pro safety Eddie Jackson will be joined by Clinton-Dix on the Bears' back line of defense. Clinton-Dix isn’t the physical force that Amos was, but he's better in coverage and also has good ball skills.

Deon Bush and DeAndre Houston-Carson return as the Bears' backup safeties. Bush filled in for the injured Jackson late in the season and show he's ready for more playing time. He doesn’t have the ball skills that Jackson has, but he's better at supporting the run. Houston-Carson had a strong training camp before breaking his arm. If healthy, he's a good backup.

If the Bears want to challenge either of their two backups, the draft offers some good options on the third day. Michigan State’s Khari Willis is in the mold of Amos in that he's physical, and he has better-than-average cover skills. Utah’s Marquise Blair is a rangy free safety with ball skills and can throw his body around in run support even with a lean frame.

Miami's Sheldrick Redwine played well in the last half of the season and has ideal safety size and speed. Kentucky's Mike Edwards is a bit short at 5-foot-10 but has speed, range and instincts. Boston College's Will Harris had an outstanding combine in running a 4.41 with a 10-foot-3 broad jump and 36.5-inch vertical jump. The trouble was we didn't see that kind of athleticism on tape. Even so, he might not last until the fourth round.

Greg Gabriel is a former NFL talent evaluator who's an on-air contributor for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @greggabe.