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The CHGO Sports crew continues “Making the Case” for prospects the Chicago Bears should consider drafting.
For the last two seasons, Eddie Jackson has had Tashaun Gipson starting with him at the backend of the Bears’ defense.
At the moment, there will be a new safety duo in Chicago, since Gipson is still a free agent. Now, coach Matt Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams need to find another starter to pair alongside Jackson.
To address the hole on the roster, here is why the Bears should consider drafting former Cincinnati Bearcat safety Bryan Cook.
Bryan Cook’s Strengths
On March 30, Will DeWitt and I continued our week-long mock draft, and I selected Cook with the 148th overall pick in the fifth round. A few seconds after I announced the pick, YouTube user, Goose, gave the perfect description of the safety.
(Thank you, Goose.)
For opposing ball carriers, regardless of where they were on the field, the “heat-seeking missile” had a knack for finding his target. Last season, which was Cook’s first as the full-time starter at Cincinnati, he accumulated 96 total tackles, nine passes defensed, two interceptions and one sack.
Cook also finished second on the team in solo tackles (57) — just two behind senior linebacker Joel Dublanko. Even when opposing players didn’t have the ball, Cook made his presence felt, like on this play against Indiana tight end Peyton Hendershot.
It was common to see Cook as the single-high safety, near the line of scrimmage or covering a tight end depending on the play, the down and distance or the situation.
Another aspect that stood out about Cook was his overall spatial awareness. This attribute can be seen on another play against the Hoosiers.
Cook avoids the congestion in the middle of the field from the mesh concept and then closes the distance to catch up with the receiver. The ball is slightly behind and Cook capitalizes by intercepting the pass.
For a player that has appeared in only 21 games in three seasons (and 14 coming in his senior year), Cook has shown a lot of potential and what he could add to a defense in the NFL.
Bryan Cook’s Weaknesses
Even though Cook is not shy when it comes to tackling, he did have a few missed opportunities when there was some space between him and the ball carrier.
Here against Indiana last season, Cook begins to dive at running back Tim Baldwin Jr. when he is two yards away. Baldwin then slightly changes his direction and avoids Cook. The Hoosiers picked up a first down on second-and-7, when it should’ve been a 3-yard gain.
Another area of Cook’s game that will be tested in the NFL is his overall speed. He didn’t run the 40 at the Scouting Combine, which obviously raises questions about Cook’s speed.
But if teams feel comfortable with his ability to turn and run with receivers on vertical concepts and out-breaking routes towards the sideline, then the speed question becomes a nonissue.
Making The Case
Simply put, Cook would add versatility, physicality and toughness to this Bears defense.
He consistently uses his 6-foot-1, 210-pound frame to impose his will on ball carriers and has proven he can force incompletions by delivering legal hits on pass-catchers.
Last season for the Colts, safeties Andrew Sendejo and Khari Willis played the most defensive snaps among the safeties on the roster. According to Pro Football Focus, Sendejo played 401 out of 610 total snaps at free safety, which is where I expect Jackson to play in 2022.
Willis, on the other hand, was fairly even, with 213 snaps coming as the free safety and 234 being in the box. And this usage would best represent how Cook can be utilized in Williams’ defense.
With April 4 being the first day of voluntary offseason workouts, the Bears’ brass is more than likely going to begin implementing the “H.I.T.S” philosophy at Halas Hall. Cook seems like a player that not only would embrace that physical and mental demand the organization is looking for but excel in the culture the team is trying to establish.
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