Bears GM Phil Emery said last week that he expected to get an immediate impact player at No. 14 of the draft. He got that in Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller.
How Fuller develops will play out through minicamps and training camp. But the Bears secured either a successor for Charles Tillman, who played just eight games last season because of two injuries, or a likely starting nickel back. Either way, Emery obtained a projected day one starter.
“Specifically, in terms of the draft,” Emery said, “you’re always looking for players who can contribute immediately, especially at the top end of the draft, that can provide not only a need but that can help provide some help, whether it’s a rotational player, a rotational starter.
“If it’s sub-starter [like a nickel back] immediately as a rookie, that’s good. If he’s a starter as a rookie and you have a hole and he can fill that and his grade warrants that pick, that’s good too.”
The Bears now project to field two 6-foot cornerbacks in sub packages. And Fuller, the brother of now-fellow NFL DB Corey Fuller believes he also can play safety, giving the Bears another option, although Fuller said he has not really played safety.
But the long term appears to be at cornerback based on what the Bears told him in the course of multiple interviews, including a visit and private workout at Virginia Tech.
“Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, I’m definitely looking forward to coming in and learning from those guys,” Fuller said. “I plan on coming in and helping them rebuild the defense.”
With several of their hoped-for six players available when their turn came, the Bears had the choice of trading down and taking either of safeties Ha Ha Clinton-Dix or Calvin Pryor.
But the Bears got only passable play out of second-year cornerback Isaiah Frey, who moved in as nickel back when Kelvin Hayden was lost for the season with a torn hamstring in training camp. Right now, odds of Frey and Hayden remaining on the 53-man roster have to be regarded as long.