Knowing that the biggest need on their team was at safety, the Chicago Bears opted go another route. With the 14th overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, the Bears selected Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller.
I understand that two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman isn’t getting any younger, so from that point of view, drafting Fuller makes sense. However, I think that Chicago missed out on addressing a much more crucial need.
In 2013, the safety tandem of Major Wright and Chris Conte was the worst in the entire league. Wright is no longer with the Bears, and Conte recently underwent offseason shoulder surgery, which could put him on the physically unable to perform list leading up to training camp this summer.
Chicago did sign free-agent safeties Ryan Mundy, M.D. Jennings, Danny McCray, and re-signed Craig Steltz, but none of these players can match the talent of a Calvin Pryor or a Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (both of whom were still available when the Bears were on the clock.)
Pryor and Clinton-Dix are the two top-rated safeties in this year’s draft, and either one of these players could have immediately stepped in and started in Week 1 of the regular season and dramatically improved Chicago’s safety position.
Now, the Bears have a player in Fuller who more than likely won’t start in 2014, since he will be playing behind Tillman and fellow Pro Bowl cornerback Tim Jennings. It is good that Fuller will be able to learn under the wings of both veterans, and could be ready to become a starter in 2015. However, safety was Chicago’s biggest weakness by far, and passing up on Pryor and Clinton-Dix would bite them in the end.
The good news is that there are some other safeties worth taking in the second round of the draft. But the one thing that will make their second pick more difficult is the fact that the Bears need a defensive tackle as well. Hopefully, general manager Phil Emery is smart enough to select a safety during the second day of the draft, and maybe he’ll get lucky and a high-quality defensive tackle will fall in his lap in the third round.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller.