LAKE FOREST — Jon Hoke wasn’t on the Bears’ staff when the team selected Kyler Gordon. But the cornerbacks coach and passing game coordinator did his homework on the No. 39 overall pick out of Washington during the 2022 NFL Draft.

“You saw how athletic he was and you saw he did have instincts and he did play in and out up there, which is always a hard thing to do,” Hoke recently said of Gordon. “It’s harder than people think it is. To go in there, it’s not that. But you could see all those things on tape.”

Those same traits that Hoke studied from afar have shown up throughout training camp and in the first preseason game against the Titans. Gordon has flashed in coverage — whether that has been against his teammates or against the Colts in the joint practices. He has created interceptions by jumping routes and using his natural catching ability to take the ball from opposing receivers. And he has showcased his physicality by lowering his shoulder into opposing ball carriers and by fighting through blocks.

“He’s just very confident in what he’s doing,” Hoke said. “He’s very confident in how he disguises and very confident in how he plays his technique. I think he sees the game much faster now, because he has gotten more reps at it. Those are the things that jump out to me.”

Hoke was asked what makes guys best suited to play the nickel corner spot, and he identified one trait that is seen in Gordon’s play.

“It’s really instincts,” Hoke said. “When you’re in there, you have to have full view of everything, because you’re also in the run game, you’re also part corner in the passing, you’re also part linebacker in zone drops. So you got to be instinctive to understand concepts and how the spacing of the offense is and just be able to see it and feel it.”

For Hoke, who has 18 years of NFL coaching experience, he said a player’s instincts can be improved “through reps, but a lot of it is just the player. It really is.” Luckily for Gordon, instincts come natural for a player who has earned the nickname “Spider-Man” from coach Matt Eberflus.

Gordon along with Jaylon Johnson, Tyrique Stevenson, Jaquan Brisker and Eddie Jackson make up a secondary that will hopefully be a reason why the Bears win more games this season.

Hoke has coached many secondary units in his time, but he will have to wait to see what this current group of guys can do before making any proclamations on what his guys can accomplish this season.

“Hard to say,” Hoke said. “We will find out here shortly. Because sometimes you get told you can do this and this but that doesn’t go. It’s when we start playing games, real games. These are important games, preseason games, they give you a little bit of an idea but they really start to reveal once the season starts.”


Nicholas Moreano is the Bears beat reporter for CHGO Bears. He has a master's degree in Communication from DePaul University and obtained his bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa.