The Bears' Plans For Kyler Gordon Go Beyond What We Originally Thought

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The Bears’ Plans For Kyler Gordon Go Beyond What We Originally Thought

Chicago Bears

When Ryan Poles used his first-ever draft pick to take Kyler Gordon, there was an assumption that he would lock into a starting role as a boundary cornerback. And it made sense, too. The Bears created a gaping hole at the position since cutting Kyle Fuller before the 2021 season, then failed to properly address it. If you saw how the Bears secondary played last year, you’d understand why it was easy to make the leap of putting Gordon as the other starting boundary corner opposite of Jaylon Johnson.

But that might not be where Gordon ends up this year.

Or, perhaps, it might not be the only way the Matt Eberflus/Alan Williams defense deploys the rookie cornerback. In Friday’s press conference, Eberflus was describing Gordon as a multi-positional defensive threat:

Gordon has spent some time early in training camp playing in the slot. Moreover, reporting from Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns (The Athletic) suggests that Gordon is embracing the opportunity to get work at the position. Gordon told reporters that he feels like that is a position where he could be like the quarterback of the defensive side of the ball. That cross-ball positional comparison tracks with me.

Think about it. The slot corner role often figures to be in the middle of everything a defense does. As we saw with Bryce Callahan when Vic Fangio’s defense was at the peak of its powers in 2018, slot corners can be asked to blitz and help against the run in addition to their coverage duties. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a fully operational Callahan due to injuries. But if that is the type of multi-positional impact player they are adding at cornerback, then I’m digging the potential upside and positional flexibility. But even more than versatility, Gordon’s ability to run in the slot puts a dent in the competitive advantage opposing offenses had against the Bears defense.

In recent years, we’ve seen an increasing number of stud receivers operate (and thrive) out of the slot. Cooper Kupp parlayed his slot excellence into a record-breaking 2021 season and a Super Bowl MVP trophy. Closer to home, we watched as Davante Adams and Justin Jefferson bully a rotating cast of characters attempting to defend the slot last year. And while Jaylon Johnson did yeoman’s work in trying to operate as a defender there, it feels obvious that his best role is holding it down on the outside. And it simply isn’t worth taking a player out of their comfort zone (especially a position of strength) to shadow in the slot. Because, in essence, you’re wearing two positions at the same time — which is precisely what opposing offenses want.

This is where putting someone with Gordon’s skills, talents, abilities, and upside levels in the slot levels the playing field somewhat. At minimum, it should make opposing offenses think twice about how they attack with their best receiver in the slot when a high-caliber corner is on the other side of the line of scrimmage.

For what it’s worth, I still think we’ll see plenty of Gordon on the outside. But that he can slide inside without losing a beat could be more valuable than just sticking him on a boundary and leaving him alone. Let’s keep an eye on Gordon’s usage and development as this summer rolls on.

Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.