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Why did Bears pick corner, not safety?

Posted May 9, 2014

Senior writer Larry Mayer discusses why the Bears drafted a cornerback and not a safety in the first round, the last time they chose a cornerback so high in the draft and if the Bears considered picking quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com

Why did the Bears pick a cornerback in the first round of the draft when they have two Pro Bowlers at that position and could have filled a greater need with a safety such as Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Louisville's Calvin Pryor?

Edwin H.
Lorain, Ohio

The simple answer is that the Bears evidently had a higher draft grade on Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller and felt that he is a better prospect than the two safeties you mentioned. In terms of depth at cornerback, it's great that the Bears have Pro Bowlers Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings in place. But with the proliferation of the passing game in today's NFL, teams generally play with five defensive backs nearly half the time. As a result, I think that if Fuller develops as the Bears expect, he will be on the field quite a bit this year as a third cornerback. And based on general manager Phil Emery's comments about how Fuller is versatile and can cover tight ends, inside slot receivers and outside speed receivers, I'd expect him to become a valuable member of the defense.

I don't remember the Bears using such a high draft pick on a cornerback. When was the last time that happened?

Andrew T.
Westmont, Illinois

Selected with the 14th overall pick, Kyle Fuller is the third cornerback the Bears have drafted in the first round in the Super Bowl era. He follows Donnell Woolford (11th in 1989) and Walt Harris (13th in 1996). Fuller is the first cornerback the Bears have chosen in the first three rounds of the draft (not counting Devin Hester) since 2003 when they picked Charles Tillman in the second round. Fuller is the first cornerback taken at No. 14 in the NFL Draft since the New York Jets selected Darrelle Revis in 2007.

I know the Bears were thinking defense in the first round, but did they give any serious consideration to selecting quarterback Johnny Manziel at No. 14?

Dennis B.
Round Rock, Texas

It certainly sounds like Phil Emery is a Johnny Manziel fan, but the Bears did not consider drafting "Johnny Football" at No. 14. Said Emery: "Jay Cutler is our quarterback, so to spend that high of a pick on a player that would become a backup for us, I don't know if that's the best use of our resources." Emery also said he believes that Manziel has a "really high talent level" and has a "great appreciation for him as a player and as a playmaker." Emery proceeded to tell the media about attending a Manziel game in 2012, saying: "As a scout, you're usually running for the exit in the fourth quarter because if you stay there, you're buried in the parking lot. You've got a job to do the next day. So you don't want to risk that. [But] I stayed for every play because the guy was magic that night and there wasn't any reason to leave."

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