The Bears’ lack of playmakers at the cornerback position is a problem.
One quick glance at the Bears’ roster illustrates just that. There is Jaylon Johnson, who will be one of the focal points moving forward for coach Matt Eberflus’ defense. But outside of the third-year corner out of Utah is where the talent takes a significant drop.
Currently projected at the opposite cornerback position is Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley. Clearly, the need at outside cornerback is evident.
From now until the NFL Draft begins, the staff at CHGO Sports will be “Making The Case” for prospects the Bears should consider drafting.
With the No. 39 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the Bears should select former Washington Huskies cornerback Kyler Gordon.
Kyler Gordon’s Strengths
Opposing teams don’t currently have to overthink where they have a mismatch advantage when going up against the Bears’ defense. They just have to look where No. 33 is on the field and go the opposite direction.
Last season, that player was Vildor – who lined up 612 times as the left outside corner, according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). Vildor gave up 40 receptions on 56 targets for 608 yards and five touchdowns.
Drafting Gordon can help minimize that mismatch advantage teams have had in the past. In his last year at Washington, Gordon registered 45 tackles, seven passes defensed, a forced fumble and two interceptions.
According to PFF, Gordon also allowed a 12.8 passing rating in man coverage last season. Only Cincinnati’s Ahmad Gardner finished with a lower rating (12.0).
The 5-foot-11, 194-pound cornerback also played 59 percent of his career coverage snaps at Washington in press coverage. And in this Cover-2 scheme, cornerbacks will be expected to jam receivers at the line of scrimmage and to set a hard edge.
On top of disrupting receivers, a cornerback in this defense needs to be physical and be a capable tackler.
This play against Michigan highlights both of those attributes.
Kyler Gordon’s weaknesses
Another important attribute that corners need to have for this defense to be successful is the ability to create turnovers. Since 2018, Gordon has just two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and the two interceptions, which both came in the 31-24 overtime win against California last season.
Even though the turnover numbers weren’t the best, Gordon’s seven passes defended last season were a career high. His quick reactionary skills and instincts, though, should lead to more production at the next level.
Going into the NFL Scouting Combine, there were high expectations for Gordon to perform well in the drills. Then, he ran a 4.57 40-yard dash and that surprised some people. But it’s one thing to run fast in shorts on a straight line and another to track down a ball carrier from behind to prevent a touchdown.
That play against Oregon fits perfectly with what Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams have been preaching since they got to Chicago.
Interesting Kyler Gordon Facts
A lot of NFL prospects grow up playing sports like basketball, baseball and wrestling and can take certain aspects from each one and apply it to football. Gordon is the same way, but he learned various skills from participating in competitive dance and kung fu.
“With dance and kung fu, honestly, just like my body control and the way I move my body,” Gordon said at the NFL Scouting Combine. “Definitely my ball skills when I go up just the way I’m able to control myself or even just in press technique with my hips and how I’m able to balance the weight transition on the ground, and just make up so much time and speed. I feel like that definitely helps a lot.”
Gordon started kung fu when he was four years old and stopped when he was 11. Competitive dance lasted a bit longer. Gordon said he started when he was six years old and traveled all over the United States – competing in everything from jazz, lyrical, contemporary ballet and hip hop. He stopped dancing when he was 15.
“I feel like that all contributed to my athletic ability,” Gordon said.
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