Deep CB, safety classes only will help Senior Bowl-coaching Bears
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MOBILE, Ala. — For the next two months, new Bears assistant secondary coach Roy Anderson will devote himself to watching film.
Anderson will look at potential free agents and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of potential draft picks. But his film work will start with getting a better understanding for the players already on the Bears’ roster.
‘‘I love just sitting down [and seeing] what you have to work with before the guys get in, so once they get in you can write out a prescription for them,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘ ‘Hey, this is where we see you at. [It’s] pluses and minuses, and this is how we’re going to get you better.’ ’’
It wouldn’t be surprising if Anderson comes away more impressed with players he sees in the draft and in free agency than with those on the Bears’ roster.
Cornerbacks Tracy Porter, Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc had some bright moments, but the highlights were sparse for the secondary this season.
As a team, the Bears tied a dubious NFL record with only 11 takeaways.
‘‘It is a priority,’’ defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said. ‘‘To be a good defense, you’ve got to be able to take the ball away, and we haven’t done that well. We’ve got to find guys that can do it.’’
The positive news is that the upcoming draft is considered deep at safety and cornerback, and the Bears will get a comprehensive look at some of those players at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.
The Bears are coaching cornerbacks Desmond King (Iowa), Jourdan Lewis (Michigan) and Rasul Douglas (West Virginia) on the North team. They will meet Friday with LSU’s Tre’Davious White and Tennessee’s Cameron Sutton, the best cornerbacks on the South team, which is being coached by the Browns.
Gaining intimate knowledge of those five players will help the Bears when they start to compare them to the best underclassmen: Marshon Lattimore (Ohio State), Teez Tabor (Florida), Marlon Humphrey (Alabama) and Sidney Jones (Washington).
The same is true at safety.
Ohio State’s Malik Hooker and LSU’s Jamal Adams are widely considered to be the best two prospects in a deep class. Their skills and strengths differ — Hooker is more of a ballhawk, and Adams is more physical — but both are possible options for the Bears with the third overall selection.
Safety, of course, long has been a problem for the Bears. Adrian Amos has plenty of starting experience, but he has yet to make an interception in two seasons. Harold Jones-Quartey has struggled with his assignments in two seasons, prompting Fangio and secondary coach Ed Donatell to remove him from the starting lineup. Deon Bush’s development as a rookie was hampered by injuries.
Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu (North) and Texas A&M’s Justin Evans (South) are the top two safeties in the Senior Bowl, and they stand out for different reasons.
At 6-4 and 219 pounds, Melifonwu is an imposing presence. Anderson compared him to the Seahawks’ Kam Chancellor and the Bengals’ George Iloka because of his size.
‘‘You like to see guys who have some size,’’ Anderson said.
Evans is valued for his range and ball skills. He made an interception on the first day of practice Tuesday.
Teams also have asked King about moving to safety.
All of it bodes well for the Bears, who like what they’ve seen so far in Mobile.
‘‘These guys are catching on really fast,’’ Anderson said. ‘‘One thing I noticed about this group is they ask really good questions: ‘Hey, why do we do this?’ ‘What does this mean?’ That makes me know that they’re paying attention, and they’re also taking it out to the field.’’