LAKE FOREST -- The pick: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech.
My take: After investing heavily in free agency along the defensive line, the Chicago Bears needed to shore up their secondary and took the first steps toward doing so Thursday night by selecting Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller with the No. 14 overall pick of the draft.
The Bears spent in free agency to add Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Jared Allen. So it was time to turn their attention to the secondary. Current starters Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings are 33 and 30, respectively. So the addition of Fuller strengthens the position for the future. It also gives the club another Day 1 starter because there’s a good chance Fuller will begin the season as the club’s nickel cornerback. It’s worth noting how often the Bears operate out of nickel packages given the air attacks of divisional foes such as the Detroit Lions and the Green Bay Packers.
St. Louis took defensive tackle Aaron Donald with the No. 13 pick, and it’s very likely he was among Chicago’s targeted players for the 14th pick. So it appears the Bears took the best player available on their board at a need position.
Fuller started 42 of 50 games at Virginia Tech and is the just the third Hokies defensive player selected in the first round of the NFL draft. Fuller produced 173 tackles, 4.5 sacks and picked off six passes in addition to breaking up 21 others at Virginia Tech. At nearly 6 feet tall, Fuller possesses the size to match up against bigger receivers in the slot, and has proven to be effective as a blitzer throughout his college career, which might serve him well in a nickel role with the Bears.
After all, in giving up a franchise-record 29.9 points per game, the Bears surrendered a league-worst 55.3 percent completion rate on throws of at least 15 yards down the field last season, and defended the second-fewest passes on throws at least 15 yards downfield.
Family ties: Fuller’s brother, Corey, was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the sixth round of 2013. Another brother, Vincent, was selected in 2005 by the Tennessee Titans in the fourth round. Kyle Fuller said he spoke to Corey just after he was drafted Thursday, and they’re already excited about the opportunity to play against one another.
What’s next: The Bears are expected to continue adding to the defense. Having addressed cornerback, the Bears will likely use their second- and third-round picks on Friday to pick up a safety and a linebacker.