Whether at the podium or one-on-one with reporters at the NFL Combine down in Indianapolis today, Chicago Bears’ head coach Lovie Smith stayed as consistent as ever—offering up little insight, while crediting his team for their successes, always followed by the obligatory, “but we need to get better, and we will.”
But there was one sentence, perhaps more revealing than the rest . . .
While being asked about the Bears’ secondary, in relation to the competition in the NFC North, Smith had this to say, as reported by Zach Zaidman: “If you’re going against 6’5” receivers, you can’t just make a living of putting 5’9” corners on them.”
Bears’ cornerback Tim Jennings is 5’8”.
Jennings is also a free agent, and he’s likely to be asking for a substantially larger contract figure than what he’d been playing on, whether to return to Chicago or on the open market.
In a previous post, I commented how the biggest issue—currently flying somewhat under the radar—for the Bears is their need at cornerback. Currently, three of the five cornerbacks on the roster are set to enter free agency next month (Tim Jennings, Zackary Bowman, and Corey Graham).
It’s already been speculated that Graham’s Pro Bowl season may earn him a chance at more defensive playing time on another team—he’s played primarily on special teams in Chicago, and earned his Pro Bowl nod doing so. It’s possible, if not probable, that Graham will not return to the Bears for the 2012 season.
And presumably, neither will the under-performing Zackary Bowman. That leaves just Jennings—the 5’8” corner Lovie blatantly said they can’t make a living with—an aging (but still performing) Charles Tillman, and D.J. Moore.
You can bet the Bears target the cornerback position—and that they do it enthusiastically—in the draft and maybe even free agency in the months to come. You can bet they’ve been planning on it.
While I have yet to scout the position’s 2012 draft class thoroughly enough to comfortably give you a name (I will do so in an upcoming post), you can read my list of the top five free agent cornerbacks here, and read our own draft guru, Dominique Blanton’s mock draft here—in which he lists an option for the Bears at corner.
Stay tuned . . .