While the most popular names projected to go to the Chicago Bears with pick No. 14 in the 2014 NFL Draft have been safety HaHa Clinton-Dix and defensive tackle Aaron Donald, cornerback Kyle Fuller could potentially turn out to be a smart pick for the Bears if their other top options are off the board.
Fuller started at cornerback in the second half of the season during his freshman year at Virginia Tech and made a total of 42 starts over the course of his college career. Despite his extended experience at corner, scouts believe that Fuller could also excel at the safety position. This versatility could be attractive to the Bears as they need to build depth at both positions.
Part of the reason that Fuller may ultimately be best suited to play at safety is that man-coverage is one of his only weaknesses. Fuller plays most effectively in zone coverage and shows excellent anticipation, instinctually recognizing routes. Fuller is also willing to come up in run support and is a sound tackler. This was most evident in 2011 when he led Virginia Tech in tackles for loss with 14.5, in addition to 4.5 sacks and a forced fumble.
In 2013 Fuller was limited to just nine games due to a sports hernia, and this potentially affected his draft stock, which has steadily been rising as the draft approaches. Fuller was initially expected to be a second-round pick, but most recent mock drafts have seen him climb up into the end of the first round.
Just last year the Bears surprised the NFL world by selecting guard Kyle Long well before he was expected to be drafted. The Long pick worked out wonderfully for the Bears in 2013, so there is precedent for the team to “reach” again this year for a player they’ve become enamored with.
At 6-foot and 190-pounds, Fuller has the size to play safety and has been productive at cornerback as a four-year starter. Fuller impressed at the combine with a 40-yard dash time of 4.49 seconds and a broad jump of 128 inches, which was third overall for cornerbacks. Scouts also say that Fuller plays faster than his recorded time due to his instincts on the field.
Fuller is regarded by some as the third best cornerback in this year’s draft behind Justin Gilbert and Darqueze Dennard, but even if both of those players are still on the board, the Bears may surprise everyone again and instead select Fuller. With his football awareness, ball skills and ability to play both corner and safety, Fuller wouldn’t be the worst first-round pick for the Bears at No. 14.