Calvin Pryor not lacking confidence if Bears go safety first

Calvin Pryor not lacking confidence if Bears go safety first
April 20, 2014, 10:00 pm
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Confidence is not only a good thing; it is an indispensable component of success in more than just the NFL.

But the last time the Bears took a player who declared himself the best at his position in his year’s draft, it didn’t work out so well. Gabe Carimi may have claimed the top-tackle honor but is still trying to prove he even belongs in the NFL after failed stints in Chicago and Tampa Bay. (The Bears may see him yet again when they visit Atlanta this season to play the Falcons. The Bears will be there; Carimi…to be determined.

The Bears needed a tackle in 2011 and didn’t fully fill the Carimi void until last offseason with the signing of Jermon Bushrod and drafting of Jordan Mills.

[RELATED - Positioning: Bears’ vacancies at safety warrant high picks, but...]

Now they need a safety and Louisville’s Calvin Pryor is clear on who the top safety is in this draft class:

"I do feel like that,” Pryor said to a question about whether he was the No. 1 safety in a thin 2014 class. “I'm very confident in my game and my film speaks for itself."

If enough other teams agree with Pryor’s talent evaluation, his being there at No. 14 when the Bears currently reside may be problematic. Pryor and Alabama’s Ha-Sean Clinton-Dix are the consensus top two safeties and the only ones generally regarded as carrying first-round grades.

Pryor’s modest self-critique: “I can play strong safety, free safety, I can come up and hit, I feel I can cover. Just a playmaker. And I'm a leader." And blitz? "I do."

Pryor has not seen a great deal of Clinton-Dix but didn’t describe the Alabama safety’s skill set quite as favorably.

“He's mainly in the middle of the field, and then he comes down and supports the run a little bit, but not as much,” Pryor said, qualifying, “I haven't really watched him that much."

Pryor, 5-11, 207 pounds, is nearly the physical double of former Bears safety Major Wright. The Bears used third-round picks on both Wright and Chris Conte, whose status will be on hold until he returns from shoulder surgery after a season in which he’d played his way into a position battle even before the offseason surgery.

[RELATED - Mock consensus: Pitt DT Aaron Donald to Bears at No. 14]

Assuming Conte regains his starting job – anything but a given, particularly after the spate of offseason safety signings by the Bears, particularly former Steeler/Giant Ryan Mundy – it would be at free safety.

Notably perhaps, the Bears brought Washington State strong safety Deone Bucannon in for Halas Hall visit this month, not long after Pryor’s own trip to Bears headquarters. ESPNChicago.com first reported the visits.

Pryor had previously met with the Bears during the NFL Scouting Combine and he already was well known to the Bears, who hired Louisville defensive-line coach Clint Hurtt as an assistant line coach earlier this offseason.

"My defensive line coach Clint Hurtt, he's at Chicago now,” Pryor said. “So he feeds me and gives me updates on how everything is going."

Whether or not that is going to Chicago will play out sometime Thursday night, May 8. The Bears have a need at defensive tackle, typically a position with a higher priority than safety, which may be filled with Bucannon in the second round, but if the Bears’ evaluation of Pryor matches his own…