Will Bears draft young corners for depth?
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Bears cornerback Charles Tillman led the NFL with 10 force fumbles last season, and he added 3 interception along the way.
Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer
Especially in today's pass-happy NFL, teams can't have too many cornerbacks with solid coverage skills, and the Bears are no exception.
Starters Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings both went to the Pro Bowl last season. Jennings led the NFL with 9 interceptions, and Tillman led the league with 10 forced fumbles and had 3 picks.
NFL draft: Top 10 defensive backs
Name, school Ht. Wt. 40
CB Dee Milliner, Alabama 5-11.7 201 4.38 Day One NFL starter but had just 6 career picks.
S Kenny Vaccaro, Texas 6-0 214 4.62 Tough and physical vs. run and can cover, too.
S Eric Reid, LSU 6-1.4 213 4.51 Big-time hitter, top athlete, 40-inch vertical.
CB Desmond Trufant, Wash. 5-11.5 190 4.43 4-year starter has 2 brothers playing CB in NFL.
CB Xavier Rhodes, Florida State 6-1.4 210 4.41 Rare size-speed combo, had excellent Combine.
S Matt Elam, Florida 5-9.7 208 4.47 Tough playmaker has KO hitting ability.
CB Darius Slay, Mississippi State 5-11.7 192 4.34 1-year starter has great speed, cover skills.
S D.J. Swearingen, South Carolina 5-10.4 208 4.66 Tough guy best suited to play in the box.
CB Jonathan Banks, Mississippi State 6-2 185 4.61 Big-play maker with top cover skills lacks ideal speed.
CB Jamar Taylor, Boise State 5-10.5 192 4.39 Quick, fast, confident leader with nice cover skills.
Number after decimal point under "Ht." refers to eighths of an inch.
Kelvin Hayden, who moved into the No. 1 nickel back midway through last season, was re-signed, as was backup Zack Bowman.
But this is not a young group. Tillman is 32, Hayden will turn 30 during training camp, Jennings is 29 and Bowman will be 29 before the season ends. So an infusion of youth via the draft is a possibility.
At safety the Bears have depth and youth, but it remains to be seen if anyone on the roster is special.
In a rare occurrence of continuity, strong safety Major Wright and free safety Chris Conte, both 24, started opening day and every game until a hamstring injury knocked Conte out of the season finale. In the eight previous seasons the Bears had 54 lineup changes at safety, 30 at strong safety and 24 at free safety. During that time, 12 different players started games at strong safety and 14 at free safety.
Five-year veteran Craig Steltz, who has played in 61 games and started seven times, provides depth. More quality depth was added in the off-season with Arlington Heights unrestricted free agent Tom Zbikowski (27), who started a career-high 11 games for the Indianapolis Colts last season. Last year's third-round pick, Brandon Hardin (23), returns after missing his rookie season with a neck injury, along with Anthony Walters (25), who started his first NFL game last season when Conte was hurt.
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