Inside Look: The Chicago Bears Safeties

Inside Look: The Chicago Bears Safeties
Ryan Mundy #21 of the Chicago Bears celebrates his interception with Jon Bostic #57, Christian Jones #59 and Brock Vereen #45 of the Chicago Bears during the second quarter of their game against the Detroit Lions at Soldier Field on December 21, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The Chicago Bears haven’t had a formidable safety unit since the 2006-07 NFC Championship season when they had Mike Brown, Chris Harris, Danieal Manning and Todd Johnson.

Here’s an Inside Look at the current Bears safety group in the first installment of this series. This is the first of 10 off-season stories going in-depth on each position to see where the Bears stand currently.

The Bears signed a veteran in Antrel Rolle and drafted a versatile youngster in fifth round pick Adrian Amos. The two join Ryan Mundy and Brock Vereen in the safety room. Second-year man Malcolm Bronson and undrafted rookie Anthony Jefferson round out the group.

Projected starters: Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy

-Rolle comes over to Chicago after 10 seasons between New York and Arizona which includes 139 career starts. He transitioned from a cornerback to a free safety in his fourth season (2008) when he was playing for the Cardinals. The past two seasons with the Giants, the 32-year-old Miami product has been a strong safety. Rolle signed a three-year, $11.25 million deal back on April 11 and his addition will give the Bears some sense of stability on the back end. He has 26 career interceptions including nine from 2013-14 and six in 2013 alone.

-Mundy, who earned a two-year, $3 million deal last off-season finished as the Bears’ leading tackler with 103 stop in 2014. He also had a career-high four interceptions, six pass breakups, a defensive touchdown and a fumble recovery in his first season as a full-time starter. Entering his seventh year in the NFL, Mundy isn’t the fastest or flashiest player, but he is a crafty one. He isn’t your ideal free safety, but next to Rolle the two former teammates (2012 in New York) should be an admirable duo.

In the mix: Brock Vereen, Adrian Amos, Malcolm Bronson, Anthony Jefferson

-A fourth-round selection a year ago, Vereen wound up making four starts in 16 appearances in 2014. He compiled 39 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble. His Week 16 interception (view play here) against rival Detroit was his first of his career. However, at 5-foot-11, 199 lbs, Vereen isn’t the prototypical safety. He saw time at slot corner in sub packages in the mid part of the season and that could be somewhere new defensive backs coach Ed Donatell decides he will fit. Vereen has talent, but he needs to be put in a spot where he can thrive and that might not be as a pure safety.

-Amos, a fifth-round pick this year is the only guy in this group listed at free safety on the team’s website. A three-year starter for Penn State he recorded 149 tackles, 19 pass deflections and seven interceptions in 49 appearances with 39 starts. ESPN Chicago’s Jeff Dickerson made it a point to highlight Amos’ play in OTA’s so far which included a “nifty interception on an overthrown pass.” The Bears need a pure center field type safety who they feel comfortable just making plays on an island and in time Amos could be that. He is versatile just like Vereen, but it appears he has a better chance to claim a starting spot from the aging starters down the road.

-Bronson spent 2013 on Kansas City’s practice squad as an undrafted rookie. He was released prior to the start of the 2014 season and earned a two-year deal with the Bears following a tryout during voluntary minicamp on April 30. The McNeese State product had 10 interceptions and 230 tackles in four collegiate season which included 40 appearances. He is on the outside looking in for a roster spot, but stranger things have happened at the safety position in Chicago.

-Jefferson was signed as an undrafted rookie following the draft. At 6-1, 198, the UCLA product has a nice frame, but he is still rather raw after starting only two seasons in college. In 26 starts, he had 166 tackles, three interceptions and 13 pass breakups. His best chance for a spot is through the practice squad much like Bronson.

Final Thoughts

The Bears are much better off on the surface at the safety position. The top four guys are a mixture of smart veterans and talented youngsters. With Rolle and Mundy likely starting it should be less risks taken than Chris Conte’s decision making over the years.

The hope is that either Vereen or Amos can take over one of the starting spots from Rolle or Mundy in a year or two. The Bears could also be grooming Vereen and Amos to be a pair. Either way, the safety position is improved this season and should be less of a concern overall.

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