Draft analysis: Bears could fill void at safety in second round
The Bears have greater needs on offense than defense. Then again, GM Ryan Pace’s M.O. is well-established — if he sees a chance for a home run, he won’t hesitate to swing for the fences.
Part 6 of a 10-part series previewing the NFL Draft and analyzing the Bears’ needs.
With the presumption that Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had played his way into a long-term contract they couldn’t afford, the Bears figured to be looking for a starting safety in the offseason.
That Clinton-Dix signed only a one-year, $4 million contract with the Cowboys raised some eyebrows. But after signing Eddie Jackson to a four-year, $58.4 million extension less than a week after the 2019 season ended, the Bears are looking for a less-expensive option at the other safety position.
Like their other offseason needs — cornerback, guard, tight end, wide receiver — the Bears can promote from within or seek an upgrade with either of their second-round picks.
Deon Bush, a 2016 fourth-round pick who has started nine games in four seasons, was re-signed to a one-year, $1.4 million contract in free agency. The Bears also signed former Chiefs safety Jordan Lucas, a 2016 sixth-round pick who has started one game in four seasons.
After fortifying their front seven in the offseason by signing edge rusher Robert Quinn in free agency and re-signing Danny Trevathan, the Bears should be able to live with Bush as their starter. And there’s no doubt the Bears’ have greater needs on offense than defense. Then again, general manager Ryan Pace’s M.O. is well-established — if he sees a chance for a home run, he won’t hesitate to swing for the fences.
LSU’s Grant Delpit might present that opportunity.The 6-2, 213-pound Delpit has all the qualities of a difference-maker —he has size and speed and aggressiveness; he can rush the passer; he make plays on the ball; and most of all, he plays with an edge. His impact on a defense is infectious.
Delpit has had injury issues, but also thetoughness to play through them — he played through a hamstring injury in the second half of the national championship game, when LSU pulled away from Clemson. And he’s not a textbook tackler. But when he’s at his best, you don’t worry about the fit —your defense is better with him on the field.
Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. could tempt the Bears as well. The son of former Vikings Pro Bowl cornerback Antoine Winfield, Winfield relies more on smarts and instinct than size and speed. But after a breakout All-American season in 2019, his pedigree makes him an enticing option for a team that has playmakers around him.
Grading the Bears’ need: Medium-to-high. The Bears have an opening opposite Jackson after losing Clinton-Dix, but Bush is a thumper who should be a capable complement to the ball-hawking Jackson. Bush started three games in 2018 in place of Jackson — including the wild-card playoff loss to the Eagles —without incident.
On the roster: Eddie Jackson, Deon Bush, DeAndre Houston-Carson, Jordan Lucas, Kentrell Brice.
The five best draft prospects: Alabama’s Xavier McKinney; Southern Illinois’ Jeremy Chinn; LSU’s Grant Delpit; Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield, Jr.; Lenoir-Rhyne’s Kyle Dugger.
Keep an eye on: Iowa’s Geno Stone —a football-gene guy at a position where instincts are huge. The 5-10, 207-pound Stone is pegged as a special-teams player at the NFL level, but could make an impact at safety in the right situation. “The most underrated player regardless of position,” according to Pro Football Focus.
Close to home: Southern Illinois’ Jeremy Chinn is a late-bloomer who has been rising up draft boards faster than any safety since UConn’s Obi Melifonwu in 2017. A nephew of 2020 Hall of Fame enshrinee Steve Atwater. With his size, explosiveness and physicality, the 6-3, 220-pound Chinn has a versatility NFL teams crave.