The Chicago Bears really need some help with their secondary in 2022.
Kerby Joseph S, Illinois
What can he prove?: Versatility
Kerby Joseph’s deep coverage prowess would fit perfectly next to Eddie Jackson in Matt Eberflus’s two-high-heavy defense. He is at his best when ball hawking the deep parts from single high or split safety alignments. That is exactly what the Bears need.
However, Joseph wasn’t really asked to do a whole lot else. And while his skillset provides a ton of value, versatility is the name of the game in today’s NFL. Having two versatile safeties that can be impactful at all levels of the field is almost a necessity in today’s NFL. So, in order for Joseph to fit the billing, expanding his versatility is what he needs to do.
Playing in the box wasn’t a shortcoming of his, but didn’t seem to make as many splashes whenever he was tasked with that role. This event will give him a chance to cover tight ends and receivers in the 1 on 1s and be more of an enforcing presence as a run defender in the team drills.
If he fairs well in these areas, I would be hard pressed to believe that Coach Eberflus hasn’t fallen for him.
Jalen Pitre DB, Baylor
What can he prove?: Safety versatility
There are draft cliches floated around every year that basically don’t say anything about a player. Even with that being said, I can’t help but use words like “smart,” “tough,” “scrappy,” etc. when describing Jalen Pitre.
The guy just gets it. He does an excellent job of staying in the right position with respect to his coverage responsibility, anticipates routes, diagnoses plays, the whole nine yards. He is just a really good football player that I believe is going to kill it at mobile.
Now, the “downside” of his evaluation is that he played exclusively in the slot at Baylor, which shouldn’t be negative. The reality is, however, is that the NFL usually doesn’t value that position with premium picks. Slot corners have never been more important, yet the league continues to treat them as sub package players.
Luckily for Pitre, there are some out there that believe he can move to safety and I am in that camp. He may not be the most athletic or rangiest but with instincts like his, he doesn’t have to be. He sees plays before they happen and skills like that seamlessly translate to safety. We will just have to see if NFL agrees.
Tariq Woolen CB, UTSA
What can he prove?: Showing out against the better competition
I saved maybe the most intriguing player at this Senior Bowl for last. Tariq Woolen is a 6′ 3″ 205-pound cornerback with 33.5-inch arms. It’s almost like Woolen came straight out of Eberflus’s lab because they truly don’t make them like this.
Not only is his size insane but he is also insanely athletic. Those are rare mesurables and they show up on his tape. He looks like the most athletic player on the field in almost every game and that could be the case in the NFL.
But athletic traits aside, Woolen’s tape is pretty good. He is comfortable with using hand and length to squeeze receivers and is extremely fluid for being that big. His biggest question mark is the completion he was going up against at UTSA.
There wasn’t anyone nearly close to him athletically to challenge him, so it was hard to get a grasp on just how good he really was. This isn’t the most exciting receiver group the Senior Bowl has ever had, but there should be enough guys who can give Woolen a real challenge.
If Woolen gets the best of them, then watch out because there is no telling how high he can go. The NFL loves toolsy prospects and will look for any reasons to talk themselves into drafting them highly. Yes, I am looking at you, Coach Eberflus.
It’s no secret that Eberflus heavily valued length and athleticism in his cornerbacks during his time in Indy. Well, it’s fair to say that Woolen checks both of those boxes and then some. Out of all guys that have been mentioned here, I truly believe that Woolen will have the most Bears scouts’ eyes on him.