Best Cornerback and Safety Prospects for Chicago Bears in 2023 NFL Draft: Rankings and Fit
The 2023 NFL Draft is around the corner. And unlike last year when Ryan Poles didn’t have a first-round pick, the second-year Chicago Bears GM has a top 10 selection to work with. He’ll get to work with Assistant GM Ian Cunningham, Head Coach Matt Eberflus, and others as they put their heads together to come up with a winning draft plan. We’re looking at some of the best prospects at various positions leading up to the Draft in search of fits for the Bears’ needs.
Previous: Quarterbacks, Running backs, Wide receivers, Tight ends, Offensive tackles, Guards and centers, Defensive linemen, Linebackers
Last, but not least: Cornerbacks and safeties
Currently on the Roster (2022 PFF Grade)
Cornerbacks: Jaylon Johnson, (62.9), Kyler Gordon (49.8), Kindle Vildor (59.4), Jaylon Johes (48.4), Greg Stroman (77.1), Michael Ojemudia (60.6), Josh Blackwell (58.0)
Safeties: Eddie Jackson (76.2), Jaquan Brisker (67.0), Elijah Hicks (63.2), A.J. Thomas (67.1)
BN’s Composite Ranking
Ranking prospects is difficult, in part, because no one publication has the same set of fundamentals or preferences. In an attempt to work through that noise, we’re using a composite ranking based on opinions from PFF, ESPN, CBS Sports, and The Athletic, and adapting them to a points scale. The best of the top-10 prospects gets 10 points, the 10th-ranked prospect gets 1, and prospects outside the top 10 get 0. From there, the prospects are ranked by total points.
Here’s how the top prospects stack up (points in parenthesis):
- Christian Gonzalez, Oregon (38)
- Devon Witherspoon, Illinois (38)
- Deonte Banks, Maryland (29)
- Joey Porter Jr., Penn State (29)
- Emmanuel Forbes, Mississippi State (25)
- Kelee Ringo, Georgia (13)
- Cam Smith, South Carolina (12)
- DJ Turner, Michigan (11)
- Tyrique Stevenson, Miami (Fla.) (9)
- Julius Brents, Kansas State (5)
Also receiving Top-10 consideration: Clark Phillips III (Utah), Jakorian Grant (Maryland), Darius Rush (South Carolina), Riley Moss (Iowa)
- Brian Branch, Alabama (40)
- Antonio Johnson, Texas A&M (30)
- Jordan Battle, Alabama (23)
- Jartavius “Quan” Martin, Illinois (22)
- Sydney Brown, Illinois (22)
- JL Skinner, Boise State (20)
- Ji’ayir Brown, Penn State (18)
- Marte Mapu, Sacramento State (14)
- Jammie Robinson, Florida State (9)
- Daniel Scott, California (6)
Also receiving Top-10 consideration: Anthony Johnson Jr. (Iowa State), Christopher Smith (Georgia), Brandon Joseph (Notre Dame), Jay Ward (LSU)
Team Fit and Need
It’s not as if the Bears don’t have a need to fill the position. No, it isn’t as big of a need as an offensive or defensive lineman. But keep in mind that Jaylon Johnson is a year away from being a free agent. So that might make cornerback a long-term need. And Eddie Jackson is a year older, too. Plus, he is coming off a season-ending injury. Maybe it feels like a luxury. However, it would be nice to maybe find a late-round safety fit.
Moreover, it would be nice to have a secondary featuring Johnson, Jackson Kyler Gordon, Jaquan Brisker, and an elite cornerback prospect coming in as a rookie. That is the type of group that would keep quarterbacks up at night. And if the Bears have to kick the can down the road and fix the defensive line next year, then so be it.
This feels notable:
If I Had to Pick One:
I’m struggling to envision a scenario in which a cornerback is the best player available on the board when the Bears are on the clock with pick No. 9. This isn’t to say that this is an impossible scenario. Instead, I just feel as if the Lions (at No. 5) and Raiders (picking at No. 7) might take the top corners off the board before Chicago gets a chance to make a choice. But in a scenario in which a cornerback is the best prospect available, I hope it is Illinois’ Devon Witherspoon.