Chicago Bears cornerback Doran Grant made a fine impression throughout the preseason, and ended it with an exclamation point:
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) August 31, 2018
Grant’s first-quarter pick-six against Bills quarterback AJ McCarron was his second interception of the preseason. Considering the Bears’ inability to create turnovers in recent years, adding playmaking ability in the secondary wouldn’t be a bad thing. This group can use as much skill on the back end in any form, so if it happens to be with Grant as a depth piece, I say “the more, the merrier.”
But for Grant to slide through and make the season-opening 53-man roster, some things need to bounce his way. First, the Bears will probably have to decide on carrying six cornerbacks. That’s not a far-fetched idea if you think about the team going up against Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson in the first two weeks. Secondary depth will be of the utmost importance when facing a pair of elite passers out of the gate.
Kyle Fuller, Prince Amukamara, and Bryce Callahan are locks. Sherrick McManis is a virtual lock, if only because of his special teams presence. Cre’von LeBlanc is also probably making the cut here, but he has had injury concerns in recent weeks, so his his health status could put him on the bubble. But for the sake of this post, let’s count him as “in” for the 2018 53-man roster. That leaves Grant battling with Marcus Cooper Sr., Kevin Toliver II, and Michael Joseph for the sixth and final spot at cornerback.
Cooper has his share of critics, and I understand if you’re not over his bone-headed miscue against the Steelers in Week 3 last season. But Cooper is an experienced corner with knowledge of this defense who also proved to be a worthwhile special teams contributor. The Bears released him, saved some cap space in the process, and brought him back on a cheaper deal. It’s possible that a clean slate and a more defined role where he isn’t expected to be a top corner will do wonders for him. Toliver has some considerable prospect pedigree and could continue to build on a solid training camp and preseason while on the 53-man roster, but could ultimately be moved to the practice squad. Joseph has battled his way into consideration for a roster spot, too. But like Toliver, the practice squad could be in his future.
Grant was a fourth-round pick in 2015 out of Ohio State, a school known for producing quality NFL defensive backs. The Buckeyes signed Grant out of St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron, Ohio (some guy named LeBron James played basketball there, I think) and was a four-star recruit who Rivals.com ranked as the third highest-rated cornerback in his class. There is an outside chance that the Bears could view Grant – someone with a good deal of prospect pedigree of his own – as someone who can contribute while also continue to develop.
The Ohio State product has certainly played his way into making a case for a spot on the 53-man roster. By 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, we’ll find out if the Bears brass thinks the same way.