Chicago Sun-Times

Bears draft preview: Need No. 5 Cornerback

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Need No. 5--Cornerback

Players on roster

CB Charles Tillman (signed through 2013)
CB Nathan Vasher (2012)
CB Corey Graham (2010)
CB Trumaine McBride (2010)
CB Marcus Hamilton (2009)
CB Rudy Burgess (2010)
CB Danieal Manning (2009)
CB Zack Bowman (2011)

Need

If things go the way the Bears are hoping with new secondary coach Jon Hoke, this will be a position of strength with the players already on the depth chart. Tillman is still recovering from shoulder surgery in January and his health must be watched. The belief is he will be fine. He's always been such a rugged addition to the run defense that you wonder if his second shoulder surgery as a pro will affect the way he plays. Vasher went into Lovie Smith's doghouse last season but he was running with the starters in minicamp. That was because Tillman and McBride were both out rehabilitating injuries. Vasher is intent on fighting his way back into a starting role and he looked to be in good position. It looks like he'll get more of an opportunity than last year's cast off in the secondary, Ricky Manning Jr., and Vasher has earned that right.

Graham will be battling him for the starting job on the right side and while he impressed at times in 2008, he must take another step. We list Manning with this bunch because he is the nickel cornerback even though the club lists him as a free safety on the roster. We also list Bowman, who has been switched (maybe not permanently) to free safety. But other than Tillman, Graham and Manning, nothing here is a lock for 2009. No defense will turn away a cornerback that can play and the Bears lean heavily on this position in special teams. Ultimately, Tillman might wind up moving inside to free safety but that is not going to happen this season and until there is a bona fide top corner to take his place, that's not a move that will be made. The Bears have other needs but this is always a position where depth is important. Just consider how Tillman and Vasher dealt with injuries last season. McBride and Hamilton figure to be in position to vie for backup jobs and roles on special teams. Burgess is a project who the club initially tried at wide receiver when he was signed last fall.

Who the Bears have been looking at

The Bears brought in West Virginia's Ellis Lankster for a pre-draft visit after college scouting director Greg Gabriel attended the Mountaineers' pro day. They also put Troy's Sherrod Martin through a private workout. However, it's believed they are looking at him as a free safety. Hoke went to Los Angeles to attend Hawaii's pro day with a plan to look at Ryan Mouton.

Coming Wednesday: Defensive end.

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11 Comments

Corey Graham was a pleasant surprise last season for the Bears, especially for a former 5th rounder out of New Hampshire. If he continues to improve his game, he'll be a pretty good corner for Chicago.

Charles Tillman is one of my favorite players. Tillman has nice size, and is a physical run supporter. He's not a shut-down corner, but in Chicago's scheme you don't really have to be. Not saying a shut-down corner wouldn't be nice, but Chicago can get by without one and has in the past. If healthy Tillman can get the job done. An improved pass rush would help Chicago's secondary the most, the Bears can get the job done with their current personnel they have at the position.

With Tillman on one side, and Graham & Vasher dueling it out for the other job, Chicago should be fine. Also, Trumaine McBride adds nice depth.

I can't see the Bears using a 2nd-4th rounder on a corner, not saying they won't, but it would surprise me. I like Ellis Lankster of West Virginia the most of the corner prospects the Bears have looked at. Lankster has pretty good size at 5-11, and is good in run support, scouts say he's a good open-field tackler. Also, he's got the speed, 4.5 40, to run with receivers down the sideline. Lankster would be a nice 6th-7th rounder. Another one to think about is Iowa's Bradley Fletcher. He's a projected 6th-7th rounder who has nice size at 6-1 196lbs, but was only a one year starter at Iowa. Fletcher stood out at the Outback Bowl against South Carolina and followed it up with an impressive week of practice at the East-West shrine game. Fletcher has long arms and active hands, and you got to like his 4.4 40 time. Angelo knows his corners, Im confident he'll find another nice player at the position GO BEARS!!

This is of major importance to the success that the Bears may or may not have in 2009. I will not trust Peanut Tillmans shoulders for the whole season, and especially when it comes to being a physical corner that he has been in the past. I would hope the Bears would bring in at least 2 or maybe 3 new cornerbacks, to compete for playing time, and if they can find one, then they may be able to ease Peanut back into game shape, instead of throwing him in there, when we all know that shoulders are everything in the NFL, just like knees, once they are injured, they are never the same. It would also help the cornerback situation, if we had a tremendous pass rush....

You can never have enough bodies in the secondary, especially when they seem to drop like flies on this Bears roster.

Look for Angelo to draft both a FS and a CB. Burgess will end up on the practice squad as a developmental type. Bowman is safe because of his ability to play CB and the decision to teach him the Safety position factors in as well... It could be a numbers game between a newbie, McBride and Hamilton for a roster spot.

Safety locks are Payne, Steltz and Manning. Bullock and Earl could be competing for a roster spot and if Angelo decides to draft a FS with the #49 pick then both could be on the bubble.

My guess is that they carry (11) DB's this year so it could be (5) CB's and (5) safeties and NB Daniel Manning.

(4) more days, can't wait !!

Go Bears !!

IMHO the secondary was a root problem for the Bears defense last year. It wasn't just safety, it was cornerbacks too. They gave up a lot of big plays and did not make nearly enough. That said, I really look for Tillman and Vasher to both have come-back type years. If not both, then at least one.

Tillman spent most of last off-season sitting in a hospital with a life and death situation with his daughter. Peanut is a good guy and football had to be way down on his list. He had a bad year in football, but a happy ending one at home. Players have bad years, it happens. I'm betting he comes back this year.

It always felt like Vasher was struck by a combination of a fat bank account and a nagging injury. It looked like that groin thing he had robbed him of some explosiveness last year. A groin has got to be tough to play football with, especially for a corner. This is going to be a career defining year for him. Brad says he is slimmed down and in really good shape. I like his chances to play well too. He better. If he doesn't he will be gone and we will be looking at Graham. Vasher knows that.

The Bears could easily draft a corner, but unless somebody really good does a Brady Quinn freefall, I doubt it will be early.

So Brad is Graham a lock or is he battling for a spot with Vasher?

"Graham will be battling him for the starting job on the right side and while he impressed at times in 2008, he must take another step."

Oh ok so there is going to be a competition for the spot.

"But other than Tillman, Graham and Manning, nothing here is a lock for 2009."

So, wait he is a lock but will compete for the job??

The Bears pass defense was ranked 30th last year, none of these guys should be locked into anything. The Bears tied for 22nd in terms of sacks, so it was not just the line that was the problem, in fact 9 of the 10 teams who had fewer sacks then the Bears all of them were better against the run. While the Safety position had as much to do with this as anything. Well unless your Kevin A and you feel Payne is the greatest Safety to ever play in the NFL. Graham and Tillman had there share of blown plays. But Tillman has always been known to give up a few big plays a season, he is also well known for getting destroyed top WR's. But he is good against the scrubs.

ahhhh.....time for me too smack you around kevin, BUMstead! (hyu hyu hyu iam so funy) sorry but payne is a BUST!!!

ans brad waht do you mean abot vasher grahm tillman ans my best frend staley da bear??? why dont you be a littel cleerer so i dont have to SMACK yo around like BUMsted to!!!

feelas teh whole secondary is made of BUSTS!!! i donut undrstand it. on my madden team i have ed reed at fs, bob sansers at ss, ashante samuel at rcb ans asamugah at lcb. why cant the bears do the same??? its so easy ans my defense is realy good with theese players wehn i play on rookie mode.

but you guys now me old crap-ton just tring to be poastive...

ps i now o hae v to be ready fro opening day at soilder field...lukily my mom ans i are teh same size so her underware fits me just fine. oh ans i was working o n a sing to song...here it is....

wehn BRANDO smiles...it takes me miles...from were i want too be....

Tillman is what you call a Player. Besides QB corner-back is the hardest position on the field! EVERY I mean EVERY CB will get beat by the elite Creighton. Tillman is a ball hawk. He was part of the reason the Bears lead the NFL in takeaways in 08. He is the BEST at creating fumbles and a heck of a run supporter. So I would say Tillman is the only LOCK in the defence back field. On top of all that he plays hurt he is a warrior!

Creighton, I think Brad meant that other than Tillman, Manning and Graham nobody else is a lock to be playing/there next season. However well Vasher plays in Minicamp I'd expect that Graham will see time on the field.

Regarding the pass defense you rightly quote that the Bears were 22nd in terms of sacks but when you look at that against the number of passes attempted (622, no1 in league) you'll find that in sacks per attempt they were 3rd behind the toothless Chiefs and Bungles as far as I can see who had much weaker run defences and frankly, were only in a few games, so teams didnt have to pass on them. Add this to the Bears being regarded as blitzing more than anyone else last year and you see that the pass rush was non-existant.

While it worked at the Colts, throwing your linebackers up to the LOS means they'll never be able to effectively cover their hook/curl zone and disrupt shallow slant patterns. The scheme was never meant to be used in such an aggressive way and when it did we saw how teams tore it apart.

I do believe the Bears would be wise to draft a safety this year, and being stationed in Hawaii I've been to a lot of Warrior football games and I can tell you Ryan Mouton is the real deal. If he stays healthy he'll be a guy who looks likes a steal 3 years from now. Great speed, great intuition, hes a real ball hawk. Reminds me a lot of Mike Brown in his early days. I believe you can get Ryan in the 4th or 5th, so use that 2nd round pick on a Defensive Tackle PLEASE! Also with a deep LB group it would not be a terrible idea to look at finding some competition for Nick Roach.

Creighton,
what Brad meant is that no one else is a lock to make the roster..i think he was saying that Vasher might be cut..but I dont see that happening.

IMO DT should rank higher than CB. And why is OT going to be listed ahead of DT and DE??? Umm...Brad..I think you should rethink that.

I think our top 3 needs are WR, FS, DE. We only have 1 quality WR in Devin Hester..and then one possible in Bennett.
As far as FS we have 0 quality FS's and our only possible is Josh Bullocks..and while I like Bullocks, we definitely need competition.

Those are our top two needs no doubt...the debate then should be what position is #3....its between DE, DT, CB and OT

Ok..

DT we have Tommie Harris, Marcus Harrisson and Anthony Adams

DE we have Adewale Ogunleye, Alex Brown and Mark Anderson
(with Israel Idonije serving as a swing End/Tackle)

CB we have Charles Tillman, Nathan Vasher and Corey Graham
(Danieal Manning is the Nickle and also a CB for some reason)

OT we have Orlando Pace, Chris Williams and Kevin Shaffer

Taclke looks like a strenght now with all 3 players signed for at least the next 2-3 years. So while we will need a young tackle in the next couple of years...this year it is NOT a need.

CB we have 4 solid guys and 2 are making big money. I think we could use some depth, but its definitely not a top 3 need either. (I also love Zach Bowman, but it looks like he might be a FS now, and his injuries concern me)

So it comes down to DT or DE for the #3 need...The reason why I think DE is a bigger priority is because Wale and Mark Anderson both are free agents next year...and Alex Brown and Wale aren't getting any younger...Mark Anderson has talent, but you can never have too many pass rushers.


Team Needs
#1 WR
#2 FS
#3 DE
#4 DT
#5 CB
#6 OLB

I think we should draft a WR and FS with our first two picks (Unless a DT or DE of high value is available at #49)..but i think our first 4 picks in some combo should be WR, FS, DE and DT, and then we should also add another WR somewhere

Last year, Tillman's idea of coverage was to first let the receiver catch the ball and then to react and chase him down after the reception!! I hope that Hoke can do something to change his approach so he's more proactive prior to the reception.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 21, 2009 7:22 AM.

Big Game Torry Holt to sign a three-year contract ... in Jacksonville was the previous entry in this blog.

UPDATED: Angelo, Gabriel discuss 2009 NFL draft is the next entry in this blog.

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