Chicago Bears: The NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, Shrine Game offer draft intrigue

Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Chicago Bears (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Chicago Bears, Blace Brown
Chicago Bears (Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images) /

There are four defensive backs who will be up for free agency this Spring.

Deandre Houston-Carson is actually an RFA and will likely be back in Chicago given that he only played a handful of defensive snaps on the year; his bread and butter is special teams. Marcus Williams was a late-season signing when Bryce Callahan went down with a broken foot against the L.A. Rams. There was a reason why he was on the streets before then.

The priorities here are Callahan and Adrian Amos. Both are prickly subjects as the Bears sound like they want both guys back, but there are stipulations. Callahan was a gem of a UDFA signing out of Rice, but he has struggled with injuries since becoming the full-time starter at the nickel. Amos might have played his way into a nice contract, nice enough where Chicago can’t offer him anything better. Hometown discounts might be off the table here.

Some notable DBs to watch this weekend:

Brandon Watson, CB, University of Michigan: Probably one of the more noteworthy Power 5 conference players at the NFLPA Bowl, Watson was a late-bloomer at nickelback for the Wolverines. He spent the first three seasons as a special team stud, and finally, his number was called as he played meaningful snaps in all 13 games. In the Week One loss to Notre Dame, he made his first career interception. Just don’t talk to him about his performance in “The Game” (he didn’t do too hot).

Lukas Denis, S, Boston College: His teammate, Will Harris, had a much more successful season (and earned a Senior Bowl invite). Denis racked up 49 tackles, two broken up passes, and one pick-six in his final season with the Eagles. However, he lacks the size required to play safety at the next level (5-foot-11). It’s possible that he’s limited to special teams early on in his career or may need a position change.

Blace Brown, DB, Troy University: This senior had a productive penultimate season for the Trojans, racking 44 tackles, breaking up six passes, and grabbing a lone pick. This was something of an improvement from 2017 (33 tackles), but a regression (five picks and a forced fumble). One of those picks came against LSU when Troy clinched a legendary upset. He needs to bulk up more (183 pounds) in order to withstand the physicalities of the professional level. His height could suggest that he could start outside one day.