The Bears spent much of the 2017 mock draft season connected to any number of defensive backs … and for good reason. Chicago’s defense was coming off a year where it struggled to force turnovers, and more specifically, couldn’t get the handling on interceptions.
By now, we know the smokescreen proved to be a distraction as GM Ryan Pace moved up to draft quarterback Mitch Trubisky. A year later, one draft pundit has the Bears following through on their hunt for a top cornerback.
NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s first mock draft sends Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward to the Bears with the eighth overall pick. Ward landing in the top-10 is not much of a stretch considering Kiper’s first mock draft had Ward going ninth to the 49ers.
Jeremiah describes Ward as a “dynamic playmaker with the tools to play inside or out” and that could make him a valuable (and versatile) piece to Vic Fangio’s defense. Ward, a first-team All-American, is a physical defender who has shown the willingness to play press coverage and attack in the run game despite his 5-10, 191-pound frame. In 2017, the Saints plucked Ohio State cornerback Marshon Lattimore with the 11th overall pick and the rookie helped transform what was a woeful New Orleans defense the year before.
I’m not saying Ward is the next Lattimore, but there is recent evidence of how a strong rookie cornerback can impact a defense.
On the surface, Ward is an outside-the-box pick because he doesn’t represent a solution to any of the Bears’ offensive holes. For what it’s worth, Jeremiah believes the Bears can attack their offensive problems in free agency and in the middle rounds of the draft.
So while cornerback might not be a “need” for the team when draft weekend rolls around, at least one pundit sees fit to use the Bears’ highest pick to plug a hole in the secondary. And if Kyle Fuller and/or Prince Amukamara don’t re-sign with the team, going in that direction would make much more sense.