Numerous season ending injuries finally finished Mike Brown’s career in Chicago. Year after year Brown was unable to finish an entire NFL season and Jerry Angelo finally decided not to retain Brown’s services. Thus leaving a gaping hole in the secondary of the Cover-2 defense.
The primary job of the safety in the Cover-2 is double edged important. He has to be stout in run support and then very smart in coverage making the proper read in the zone scheme to avoid getting burned. Currently the only safety that inspires any level of confidence is Kevin Payne. After that the drop off is El Capitan like as you could argue that none of the other safeties belong on an NFL roster as a safety.
Danieal Manning has superb athletic ability some of the best speed on the roster. Unfortunately he doesn’t seem to have what it takes in the way of grey matter to play well in coverage and flails around in run support. As a third year player Manning is an embarrassing waste of talent. To top it off he was a second round selection three years ago so there was expectations that he would at least add some value to his pick. He has thus far only provided value as a kick returner replacing Devin Hester who struggled in 2008.
No that’s not Adam Archuleta wearing number 20 and running around in the secondary getting posterized by RBs as a would be takcler in run support. It’s rookie Craig Steltz from LSU. Based on Steltz’s appearances as a rookie in 2008 you would be hard pressed to convince a Bears fan that it wasn’t Archuleta back there. Both played essentially at the same level, both are white, both wore number 20, and they are about equal in size. Both were equally embarrassing with their play in the secondary.
Based on this assessment of the safety play in 2008 it’s not hard to swallow that the Bears may need to draft a safety on day one of the draft. So the question becomes who are the Bears likely to target as a safety in the draft?
The five best DBs in the draft are all CBs according to numerous draft sites that have scouted out the top prospects. After that it’s an argument as to where a couple of the potential safety prospects will play. There is even argument about who the top overall safety prospect is.
Some say William Moore from Missouri will be better suited as a weak-side linebacker in the NFL. At 6-1 230-pounds it’s hard to argue that point. Moore is strong in run support and not so strong in coverage. The most important aspect of where Moore will play will be his 40-yard dash time. If his 40s are in the mid 4.4 range or lower then hopefully he can be coached up to be better in coverage.
Patrick Chung from Oregon measures in the 5-11 205-pound range and is known as quite the stud in run support and is equally good in the open field. Chung might be the best all-around safety prospect available but does not grade out with a first round level value to most scouts. Chung’s allged weakness is his coverage awareness skill. Aka Danieal Manning disease which is something the Bears don’t need more of. In favor of Chung though is that open field tackling ability in run support which is what Mike Brown was superb at. Chung seems to be a very coachable prospect who could develop his awareness ability in the right system.
Rashad Johnson of Alabama to me sounds like the identical type of prospect Mike Brown is. Not the type of the line measurables, not the type of the line speed, but will give 100% effort all the time and has a high football I.Q (does that mean he’ll score high on the wonderlic test) which bodes well for being a field captain able to adjust and align his defensive mates. Maybe Johnson does not have all the same cliches you would like in a safety prospects, but a lot can be said for having football smarts. Measuring out at 6-0 tall and 187-pounds isn’t all that bad. The question is where will he run the 40-yard dash time. As with any DB prospect this will be one MMI keeps their eye on.