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Bears draft Minnesota CB Terell Smith in fifth round


The Bears on Saturday picked Minnesota cornerback Terell Smith with the 165th selection in the fifth round of the draft.

The 6-1, 215-pounder played in 37 games over five seasons for the Golden Gophers, registering 109 tackles, 6.5 tackles-for-loss, four interceptions and 16 pass breakups. Last year Smith was named Honorable Mention all-Big Ten after starting all 13 contests and producing 38 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, two interceptions and five pass breakups.

"I would say as a player I bring physicality," Smith said. "I'm a physical corner. I'm going to set the tone. I'm going to do my job and I'm going to be disciplined. Off the field, I'm just a mature young man. I'm very disciplined on and off the field. You're just getting a high character guy."

Smith started 11 games as a true freshman in 2018, but injuries and inconsistent play limited him to a total of just 13 contests over three seasons from 2019-21. But he persevered, ultimately regaining his starting position last year.

"We talk about resilience is a big thing," said Bears co-director of player personnel Trey Koziol. "That is one of the key cogs we talk about when we're looking for Bears players, so for somebody to stick it out and kind of work through those things and kind of pull himself up by his bootstraps and continue to get better, that shows a lot about him as a player and a person. I think that is a special thing with him." 

The Bears view Smith as an ascending prospect who will only continue to improve. 

"What I really liked [about] him, what's special about him is he's kind of made that steady ascent, right?" Koziol said. "When we look at drafting players it's like, 'Can you still get more out of them? Are they still in that developmental upswing?' And I think that's where Terell really stood out. 

"I thought the senior year he showed a ton of improvement and he just kept getting better and better and better. And then he went to the East-West Shrine Game and that just kept getting better and better and better, and he tested out really well at the Combine and had a really nice Pro Day. So all the little checked boxes that we look for, he kind of hit all of them."

Smith could make his biggest impact on special teams. He gained a lot of special teams experience at Minnesota and credits special teams coordinator Rod Wenger with teaching him "all the fine details."

"At Minnesota, we always talk about how special teams wins you a game or loses you a game," Smith said. "It's an important part of the game. That's how I approach it. It's just like a defensive rep; it's just as important." 

Before enrolling at Minnesota, Smith attended South Gwinnett High School in Snellville, Ga., where he played cornerback and receiver and earned first-team all-region honors. He also lettered in track and field, winning Georgia state championships in the 200-meter dash (21.26) as a sophomore and the 100-meter dash (10.39) as a junior. 

The Bears drafted Smith with a pick they had obtained earlier in the day from the Saints in return for moving down 12 slots in the fourth round.

With the 165th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Bears select Minnesota defensive back Terell Smith.

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