More on Bears Draftee Kyle Fuller

Pic via @ChicagoBears

Pic via @ChicagoBears

When the Bears selected Kyle Fuller with the 14th overall pick, I wasn’t exactly stunned. He’d been to Chicago to visit with the team, and there were various reports that noted the Bears had put him through a private workout while visiting Virginia Tech’s pro day. So the idea that the Bears would select Fuller wasn’t farfetched.

But thanks to how the draft board played out, it struck some people as odd that the Bears would select a cornerback, given their glaring need at safety. In my recent ranking of the Bears needs, I had cornerback ranked 6th, while safety was the top need for the team. But when the Bears were placed on the clock, both of the draft’s top safety prospects, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (later chosen by the Packers, naturally) and Calvin Pryor (now a Jet) were still available. Shouldn’t the Bears have addressed the hole at the position of need?

Well, not necessarily. Obviously Phil Emery considers Fuller a grade above Clinton-Dix and Pryor, but I think it goes beyond that. As I noted in my intro to the positional needs list, Charles Tillman is not going to be able to play forever. He’s also coming off of a fairly severe injury. It’s quite possible that cornerback would have become just as big of a need as safety going forward, so it made a lot of sense to address the position with a player they obviously like very much.

So, how good of a prospect is Fuller? The reviews on him seem to be fairly positive; he was ranked second among cornerback prospects by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr., as well as ESPN’s Scouts, Inc. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock had him ranked as the top cornerback in the draft, and called him the “most NFL-ready corner (he) saw on tape…Fuller can play nickel corner on Day 1.” He ran in the 4.4s at the NFL Combine, he’s got good size (a shade under 6 feet) and length, and his ball skills and run support ability received top of the line “Exceptional” grades from ESPN’s scouting profile. (Insider-only.) He’s a legitimately talented player, by all objective and most subjective measures. The Bears defense needs as many of those as possible.

He’ll likely be asked to play as the nickelback, at least to start. Isaiah Frey has not exactly overwhelmed with his performance in the role, and with some very high-powered offenses in the NFC North, the nickel package is going to see the field often for the Bears.

I think it’s a bit foolish to attempt to grade selections on the day of the draft, although I understand the impulse. What I think is reasonable, though, is to look at who the Bears drafted relative to their needs and the other players available at the time. Had Aaron Donald still been on the board at 14, I think the Bears would have had a much more difficult decision on their hands, but once St. Louis took the disruptive defender, Fuller made a lot of sense for the Bears. It seems to me that the Bears did exactly what I’d hoped they’d do: take the best available player on their board, with a lean toward defenders.

I’m certainly not going to complain about that.

Oh, and if you want to get excited, here’s a nice highlight reel. (Thanks to Twitter follower @yessmiss for sending that along.)

I, for one, cannot wait for football season.

Jay Rigdon is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation Bears, and can also be found @BearsBN on Twitter.

40 responses to “More on Bears Draftee Kyle Fuller”

  1. Adam

    In round 2, Bears should try to get one of these 4 players: Ra’Shede Hageman, Louis Nix, Terrence Brooks, Timmy Jernigan. The 3 DTs were at one point considered top 20 prospects and Brooks is the top rated Safety still on the board. There is still a real opportunity to get a key contributor for the 2014 season. Make it happen, Emery.

    1. mdavis

      I think they will address DT sometime in the next 3 rounds, but I don’t think its as big of a need as people have made it out to be. If they can get one of these big corners (with the intent of moving him to S), I think you see that in round 2, and then possibly a Borland, Brown, Skov or a DT in round 3.

  2. Nathan

    If the Bears can land Tuitt, Van Noy, one of the DTs, or SJB in the second I’ll be happy

    1. cubbiekoolaid2015

      Tuitt would be an interesting pick. He can play both DE and DT effectively but I think he’s more suited for DE. I think if Tuitt ends up being the pick, the plan would be to move Houston inside with Ratliff and have Allen and Tuitt on the outside.

      1. mdavis

        i dont really see Tuitt as a scheme fit. He’s a 3-4 DE I think. Yes, its possible they run more “hybrid” but with what they’ve done in FA with the DL, I think the hybrid looks are going to be with the LBS and DBs, not the line.. Could he bump in? sure. I just think there are others that will be on the board that would fit better. Van Noy would be an interesting pick, but if they go LB I think the focus is going to be inside, with Bostic, McClellan moving outside and Greene out there. Of course they could view Va Noy as a middle backer, but I thought he was more of an edge rusher? I could be wrong on that though. Plus the Sam backer in this system really just isnt that major a spot to fill. 35-40% of the snaps basically.

        1. Nathan

          I was reading somewhere that many teams think Van Noy can play any LB position. If that’s the case I would love the pick

          1. mdavis

            yeah i just saw an article on espnchicago bout him. said he projects to the Sam for the Bears. and I just don’t think they should use a 2 on that. its not a high value position in their current scheme. but, if they think he could transition to mike or will down the line, maybe the value matches up

            1. frank

              I read a report on Van Noy that says he doesn’t seem to have a positional fit and that he doesn’t change speeds or direction well. On the other hand, he’s smart and opportunistic. But I agree, that the strongside backer is just not a value position in their current scheme–to use a 2 on that position would not be getting very good value, unless of course, they’ll be running schemes where the Sam is more important.

  3. Mikelach13

    Really like the Fuller pick! Hoping for a DT in the 2nd and a Safety in the 3rd!

    Go Bears!!!

    1. beerhelps

      Hopefully a safety in the 3rd this year works out better then the last 57 in a row they’ve taken in the 3rd.

      1. frank

        Amen!

  4. mdavis

    JD on espnchi made his predictions for round 2: Hageman, if he’s gone then Jernigan, if both gone, then maybe Jace Amaro, TE. would be terrifiying to have both him and Bennett in the slot, Marshall and Jeffrey on the outside. yikes

    1. Coop

      I hated the idea of Hageman in the 1st round, but I could get on board in the 2nd round. The upside is tempting. I would be fine with SJB if they think he can play FS (and maybe convert him back to CB if Tillman or Jennings retire/get injured/are too old to be effective). I wish Peanut were more open to playing safety ala Rod Woodson. I think he could be a top notch FS.

      Tuitt or Jernigan seem like options. I was disappointed Ward and Bucannon went in Rd1. Same for Easley. All would have been nice in Rd2.

      1. mdavis

        i agree. I think if Hageman is there then it becomes a value pick. Round 1, no way. I’d like SJB, but I could see him taken first 10 picks in round 2. and I know i keep going back to these two, but they did a lot of work on Desir, (6’1″ 200, 25 carrer INts) and then McGill is a guy who already played S. It’ll be interesting though, I think we are going to see another corner isomehwere 2-4 with the intent of moving him to safety, whoever that may be. I obviously have irrational love for those two guys, but a couple others to keep an eye on in that 3-5 range, Breeland (clemson), Fullers teammate Exum (VT), and Dontae Johnson from NCST.

        1. Webb

          I know they worked out Exum on campus and I’ve seen a lot of VaTech games and he can cover. He’s not the playmaker that Fuller is but he is good in space with great size. He might be someone to watch in round three or four depending on the way everything else shakes out. I’d prefer Exum over other CB converts because he has some previous experience at the position.

        2. Nathan

          I agree with you. I think the Bears could very easily draft another corner that they feel can play safety. I’d rather have SJB, Desir, McGill, and even Watkins over Joyner and Brooks. Exum would be a solid pick in the later rounds as well.

          If they draft a safety later on, Huff from Wyoming would be intriguing. Mayock is high on him.

  5. Coop

    ESPN has a mock draft for Round 2. Notables:

    12 (44) Rams — FS Terrence Brooks, Florida State
    13 (45) Lions — DE Kony Ealy, Missouri
    14 (46) Steelers — DE Stephon Tuitt, Notre Dame
    15 (47) Cowboys — DT Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
    16 (48) Ravens — CB Stan Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska

    19 (51) Bears — DT Timmy Jernigan, Florida State

    21 (53) Packers — TE Jace Amaro, Texas Tech

    25 (57) Chargers — NT Louis Nix III, Notre Dame

    32 (64) Seahawks — DC Keith McGill, Utah

    1. Coop

      That is a tough run on players I would be interested in right before the Bears pick…

      1. cubbiekoolaid2015

        I’d be happy with that. Jernigan could be elite if he commits himself. Get Jernigan in a NFL weight room, increase his endurance, and whoever picks him could have a real steal on their hands.

    2. Webb

      Terrence Brooks is probably the next best safety so it would be disappointing if he were taken before 51. That said most have him graded well below the DT talent still available, so Emery is trapped in a difficult situation of need vs. skill. Do you take the safety you so desperately need even if he grades well below the DT’s still on the board? That Buchanan pick at 27 really fucked things up for their draft board IMO.

      ….A lot like the Hoffman injury for the Cubs actually.

      1. mdavis

        I dont think you reach for Brooks. If he’s the top player on your board, then arlight. But I think they could find value later on, and Emery has eluded to the fact that they ahve scouted rangy corners they can convert.

        While they certainly liked Bucannon (3 visits i think), he had to of been a “trade back” option. He was never going to be there at 51.

        1. Webb

          I’d prefer to avoid another Brandon Harden incident in trying to convert an athlete that has no experience playing safety.

          1. frank

            Depends on who they get–McGill, for example, does have experience at safety. I’m not sure about Desir.

            1. Webb

              I saw that on McGill. Sounds like he also wound up hurting his shoulder at the position on a tackle that cost him 2012. In general, outside of Exum and Brooks, I guess I’m just not that crazy about the Bears secondary options right now. Exum has a ton of question marks himself, but at least I’ve seen him play.

              1. mdavis

                while the Harden experience was a huuuge mishap, i dont think it should dictate what they do here. plenty of corners are transitioned to safety at the next level that pan out. its just like any other prospect, you need to trust your scouts and your analysis. But I feel like that’s the route they are going to end up going, as opposed to drafting a true safety. Either way, I think another DB is coming somewhere in the next 3 rounds.

                1. frank

                  I think too, that much of the problem with Harden was that he just couldn’t stay on the field. Hard to learn a new position from the trainer’s room. Another plus of transitioning a CB to S is that the cover skills are often better.

                  1. mdavis

                    yeah you’re talking about a guy who missed his entire senior year, they had no business taking in the 3rd, then missed his whole first year. they just did everything wrong with him.

                2. Webb

                  “plenty of corners are transitioned to safety at the next level that pan out”

                  I wouldn’t go that far. Malcom Jenkins is mediocre. Macho Harris never did anything. Conte was moved from CB in college but obviously he hasn’t worked. Antrelle Rolle is the best example I can think of for success. I feel like there is not a great deal of empirical evidence to support the theory that large corners can translate into NFL starting safeties. The best safeties that I can think of were all safeties from the get-go.

                  …Maybe we should trade for Tyrelle Pryor and revert him back to safety. I think he was a 4-star DB haha

                  1. mdavis

                    that’s a fair point. but with the lack of S talent, i think they are going to need to think outside the box and *hopefully* hit on one of those. Kiper had his 2nd round mock posted, has them picking Brooks from FSU. say hes a a guy who can step in day 1. so we’ll see. it’ll be interesting no doubt.

                  2. frank

                    Off the top of my head, I can think of one that worked out really well–Rod Woodson started as a corner and switched to safety. Carnell Lake started as a LB and switched to safety, but that is, admittedly, a much different type of switch.

                    1. frank

                      Oh–Charles Woodson too–but that was later in his career. That might be a path for Tillman–though he’s said he won’t play safety, I wonder if he’s actually been approached by the team to do so. He’s a team guy–so I bet if they asked him to do it for the good of the team, he would. Tillman and Mundy at safety with Jennings and Fuller at the corners might not be bad–the weak link would be Mundy, but at least he generally doesn’t make stupid plays.

      2. Coop

        I’m feeling like there is more value in the DL options right now. SJB would be a notable exception if they think he can convert to safety. Otherwise I say bulk up the DL depth – Hageman, Jernigan, Tuitt, Nix – all would be good picks IMO.

        1. Coop

          And I actually would be okay with going offense in Rd2 if the value is high. Like Amaro or even Carlos Hyde (though luxury depth might not be the best use of an important pick).

          1. abe

            If we can get t nikolos from nd in the 3rd round. I would wait. He is similiar to j long in the sense that they have played so much. Wr could be getting a really good talent..

  6. abe

    I wouldnt mind getting t end. Bennet seems to be banged up alot.

    1. frank

      And the backup TEs they have aren’t much of a threat in the passing game, either.

  7. mdavis

    sounds like Fuller will be wearing #23. and Urlacher comes in bitching about loyalty, respect, etc in 5…4…3…2

    1. cubbiekoolaid2015

      Haha, I was thinking the same thing. Just another reason for Lach to bitch about.

      1. cubbiekoolaid2015

        *thing for Lach to bitch about.**

  8. NFL Draft 2014 Day 2 | Bleacher Nation - Bears

    […] the Bears selected a cornerback in the first round (if you somehow missed that, it was Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller) I think it’s possible that the late first round […]

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