Despite a wealth of talent already on the roster at the position, the Chicago Bears likely won’t ignore cornerback during the later rounds of the NFL draft.
That’s not to say the Bears plan on taking a cornerback, but the team knows how quickly injuries can take a toll on such an important position. Besides that, there’s nothing wrong with adding depth and more competition for key roles.
Here’s a look at the top cornerbacks for the NFL draft, which starts on Thursday, and where they’re projected to be selected:
The next 10: 11. Brandon Burton, Utah, 6-0, 185; 12. Johnny Patrick, Louisville, 5-11, 191; 13. Chimdi Chedwa, Ohio State, 6-0, 191; 14. Marcus Gilchrist, Clemson, 5-0, 195; 15. DeMarcus Van Dyke, Miami, 6-1, 176; 16. Jalil Brown, Colorado, 6-1, 204; 17. Curtis Marsh, Utah State, 6-1, 197; 18. Kendric Burney, North Carolina, 5-9, 186; 19. Buster Skrine, Tennessee-Chattanooga, 5-10, 186; 20. Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech, 5-10, 192.
Position grade: B+
Analysis: Charles Tillman played arguably the most disciplined football of his career in 2011, while Tim Jennings emerged as a starter on the opposite side, despite meager expectations for the veteran upon his arrival.
Behind them, the Bears boast two corners -- Zack Bowman and rising second-year man Joshua Moore -- that will seriously contend for featured roles in 2011. Let’s not forget that Bowman was penciled in as the starter opposite Tillman coming into the 2010 season, and it’s likely he will supplant Jennings to regain his spot.
Moore, meanwhile, took somewhat of a redshirt year as a rookie to increase his strength. Bears coach Lovie Smith expects Moore and Bowman to elevate their games to new heights in 2011, which should make for a scrappy group in the club’s zone-heavy scheme.
At the nickel spot (which is increasingly becoming as valuable if not more valuable than the strong side linebacker spot because of the amount of snaps the nickel plays), rising third-year veteran D.J. Moore is pretty much a lock for the start. Moore won the majority of his third-down matchups in 2011, emerging as arguably the Bears' most dynamic playmaker on defense (a sack, four interceptions with one returned for a touchdown, three pass breakups and a forced fumble). But even with Moore’s promising 2010 season, Smith has pointed out a few shortcomings in Moore’s game that need to be sharpened for 2011.