With the 2017 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, it seems all experts out there have a different opinion on just about every player in this class, with one exception – Myles Garrett out of Texas A&M. Because it would be a complete act of God for Garrett to fall to the Chicago Bears. Let’s move past the stud pass rusher and discuss where the Bears need to go at the third overall pick.
First of all, allow me to point out the fact that at the owners’ meetings recently, there were several individuals in front offices across the league who gave a strong opinion on the Chicago Bears defense. Many even pointed out that, if healthy, they can be a top-15 unit in 2017. They aren’t wrong.
With guys like Pernell McPhee, Leonard Floyd, Danny Trevathan, Jerrell Freeman and Akiem Hicks all healthy, the Bears’ front seven should be one of the more formidable groups in the league. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. The problem with Chicago’s defensive unit, though, lies in the secondary.
Fortunately, Chicago was active in free agency bringing in guys like Marcus Cooper, B.W. Webb and Prince Amukamara to compete at the position. While these may not be Pro Bowl players, it gives defensive coordinator Vic Fangio what he desperately needs. In a word, competition at the position. The Bears will likely draft another cornerback as well.
Now, on to the main focus, here.
Let me take you back a few years to past draft picks. Regarding the safety position in Chicago: Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Adrian Amos, Brock Vereen, Brandon Hardin and Chris Conte – to name a few. These are the guys former GM Phil Emery, along with Pace, have chosen to be the future at the safety position. Most of them, aside from maybe Amos, have not yet panned out – and may never will.
Chicago must take Jamal Adams out of LSU – period. Next, to Garrett, some analysts even have Adams as the second-best overall prospect in the draft. Adams has all the skills to succeed in the NFL. Let’s get the most glamorous statistic out of the way. Adams recently ran a 4.33 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. He’s fast – excellent, let’s move on.
The two main reasons I’d be excited to have Adams in Chicago are this: He is smart and he flocks to the ball.
Adams did not have a single penalty assessed his way last season at LSU – not one. He’s very keen on doing his job and doing it right. One of the biggest areas I saw the Chicago Bears struggle over the last few seasons was short dump-offs and screens. Historically, the Green Bay Packers have feasted on the Bears with this play, dating all the way back to the days of Ahman Green – an absolute nightmare of a play for Chicago’s defense. However, Adams has a proven track record of reading those plays exceptionally well and playing off blocks better than anyone at the position.
Secondly, he flies to the ball. All the Bears fans who remember that Super Bowl defense in 2006 remember the players being preached at in practice: If you get the ball, you better get your tail in the end zone. Adams wants the football every second he’s on the field. This is one of his greatest strengths. After all, when you get down to the very basics of being a defensive player, following the ball is at the top of the list. It’s your job to get that football back to your offense, or get it in the end zone yourself – period.
Just think back to the last great safety the Chicago Bears have had – Mike Brown. What did he do best? He flew to the football. When he got his hands on it, he scored. Need I remind those of you who forget the back-to-back overtime wins against the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers roughly 15 years ago now? Brown was a ball hawk. He wanted it, badly. He wanted to score, badly.
Adams is that kind of player. If he’s there at number three, Pace better make him a Bear. If not, he’ll have to live with knowing he passed up on a sure-fire stud. Specifically, one that could be in the secondary for a very long time.