Bears rookie cornerback Deiondre’ Hall’s iPad features clips from the best of the best at his position. From Richard Sherman to Byron Maxwell to Patrick Peterson, there’s plenty for him to examine.
And of course, Charles Tillman’s highlights are included.
Within an hour of his selection in the fourth round, Hall raised expectations for himself – especially locally — by saying he emulates his play after Tillman, the best cornerback in Bears history.
“I’ve always tried to mark my game after him,” Hall said then.
“I’ve got a few cutups,” Hall said. “I have cutups of some of my favorite press corners. So yeah, [I’m] definitely trying to take that all in. We have access to a lot of stuff here [at Halas Hall], so that’s huge. Coming from a smaller school, we didn’t have that.
“[I’m] just keeping my eyes on those guys, and watching a lot of cutups. That’s what it comes down to. I’m trying to earn it, and learning the technique is really a craft. It takes time to really get good at that.”
Rookies often are asked which players they look up to as models, and typically, they ramble off a list of stars they like.
But there are real similarities between Hall and Tillman.
Neither Tillman nor Hall played for major college programs, attending Louisiana-Lafayette and Northern Iowa, respectively.
Rookie minicamp and organized team activities have offered only a few glimpses, but Hall uncannily resembles Tillman with his helmet on. Part of it is being listed at the same height of 6-2, but it’s also the impressive arm length.
In his Pro Football Weekly scouting report, former Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel said Hall reminded him of Tillman when he was coming out in the draft in 2003.
Hall said heading into his senior season he really started to develop the “ballhawk mentality” that’s come to define Tillman, who forced 42 fumbles and made 36 interceptions over 12 seasons with the Bears. Tillman’s eight interception returns for touchdowns also are a team record.
“[I was] attaching that to my name,” Hall said.
That he did. In his last season at Northern Iowa, Hall forced three fumbles and had six interceptions, two he returned for touchdowns. He owns the school record for pick-sixes with four.
It was “ball production,” as defensive coordinator Vic Fangio put it, that grabbed the Bears’ attention.
“He’s got a good knack for the game,” Fangio said. “He’s got good instincts.”
It’s matter of getting that “knack” to translate to the NFL. Hall has been looking forward to OTAs and getting opportunities to guard the Bears’ receivers, young and old.
“There is definitely a lot of competition,” said Hall, who has been working specifically at right cornerback thus far in the offseason program.
Similar to Tillman, Hall’s best weapon is his length – “I mean, I have some of the longest arms ever,” he said — and he’s learning how to use it better.
“Length is only good if you can stay close to the guy, and then when the ball comes, the length becomes an advantage,” Fangio said. “If they’re running away from you, the length is of no use.”
Hall has learned from watching Tillman and others that the best defense begins with being patient.
“If I can stay square within the first couple moves of the receiver and get my hands on, it makes it really tough for the receiver to get around the long arms,” Hall said. “I think I can run with anybody. [But] again, [it’s] just getting in front of a receiver and getting these long arms on him and hands on.”
He sees the results everyday on his iPad.