Defense! The Chicago Bears drafted a lot of defensive players during the 2016 NFL draft, which made a lot of Chicago fans happy. With the offense looking like it could be quite explosive, (this is obviously all based on the consistency of Cutler) the defense has been a priority for team management. Out of nine players drafted by the Bears, six were on the defensive side of the ball. I wanted to take a deeper look into the Bears fourth round, where they selected two defensive backs. Safety Deon Bush was taken with the 124th pick and cornerback Deiondre’ Hall was taken with the 127th pick by the Bears.
Deon Bush played four years at the University of Miami. In his press conference, Bush said he takes pride in being a big hitter and likes to put fear into his opponents. I, personally, love this. I have never heard of Bush until draft day, but the Bears need some intensity on the back end of their defense. For years now, Bears fans have watched mediocre safeties like Chris Conte, Major Wright and Brock Vereen consistently miss tackles, show no run support and play terrible coverage. If you do not believe me, watch the coverage Chris Conte has on Randall Cobb with a minute left in the fourth quarter against the Packers on fourth down. The Bears had the lead and the NFC North division title was on the line. I want a hard-hitting safety that sets a tone and makes wide receivers worry when they are running down the middle of the field.
At a little more than six feet tall and about 200 pounds, Bush is a decent sized safety. Pro Bowl strong safety Eric Berry is 6-0 and weighs 212 and Pro Bowl free safety Tyrann Mathieu is only 5-9 and weighs 186. These two are excellent athletes and have great ball skills, but Bush, especially with a little added size, can become a hard-hitting safety. CBS Sports had Bush as the 9th overall free safety in the draft. Scouts believe that Bush has good size and speed, but lacks some athleticism. Bush is also one of the strongest safeties entering the NFL, as he bench pressed 225 pounds 17 times. In his four years, Bush had 168 total tackles, 13 passes defended, four interceptions and nine forced fumbles. He had 5 forced fumbles in 2014 alone. His stats do not really blow me away, but his strengths must fit Vic Fangio’s defense.
Deiondre’ Hall was a four-year starter at the University of Northern Iowa. He had 13 career interceptions and six last season. He has great ball skills and the ability to finish, returning four of the interceptions in his career for touchdowns. In 2015, he won Missouri Valley Football Conference defensive player of the year. At the University of Northern Iowa, Hall started at both corner and safety. He was even played at wide receiver at times. This versatility gives the Bears’ coaches a variety of options in how they can use Hall.
Hall’s biggest asset is his length. He has great size at 6-2 and around 200 pounds, but his arms are more than 34 inches long. Hall has some of the longest arms in this year’s draft. This is a great advantage for defensive backs, especially when they are going up with wide receivers for 50-50 balls. He sometimes looks a little too thin, but scouts have reported that he is unafraid of bigger receivers and usually matches up pretty well. The biggest downside to Hall is that he played at the University of Northern Iowa. This is usually not a conference that has great NFL-type competition. If Hall can adjust well to the NFL, he can be considered a gem taken in the fourth round.
Both Bush and Hall have a lot to prove, but the Bears do need a lot of help in the secondary. These two added defensive backs can provide an instant spark.