The Bears invested heavily in Tim Jennings at cornerback, locking him up with a multi-year deal as the 2013 season was ending. They did not make a move for Charles Tillman, who was recovering from a season-ending triceps injury that had come after a knee injury cost him a game earlier in the season.
Tillman’s return is in doubt, whether for reasons of injury, finances or both, leaving the Bears with a need for nothing less than a day-one starter either in free agency or through the draft in May.
[NFL Draft: Kiper -- Bears can’t wait to draft elite DL]
Waiting for and in the draft comes with a measure of risk, beyond the obvious annual question of whether some young player can transition from college excellence to the NFL.
But with the greater need on the defensive line, cornerback may be better addressed later rather than sooner, at least in the draft.
In their favor, “cornerback has turned out to be a pretty good position overall,” said ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper, who has concluded that there are not a lot of first-round corners this year, maybe two or three.
“A lot of second- and third-round corners. You can wait a little bit on that spot.”
Look for that to happen somewhere if only because some of the NFL’s best defenses have been well served by later-round picks at the position.
All-Pro Richard Sherman was taken by Seattle in the fifth-round. Tillman, for that matter, was a second-round Bears pick in 2003. Jennings was a second-rounder for Indianapolis in 2006. So was Kelvin Hayden (2005) by the Colts and the Bears’ starting nickel corner before a season-ending injury last training camp.
Sherman’s opposite number, Brandon Browner, was an undrafted free agent for Denver in 2005 and went on to play against Marc Trestman’s Montreal Alouette teams as a member of the Calgary Stampeders.