Congratulations to Kyle Fuller on his first round selection. A great player and even better person. #GoHokies
— Bud Foster (@coachfostervt) May 9, 2014
The tweets are rolling off faster than you can read them, with Bears fans whining about Kyle Fuller not being the Safety they needed, but when Chicago fans recognize what they have in Kyle Fuller, they should be able to relax. Just the 2nd cornerback taken in this year's draft, Fuller will have his work cut out for him in a rebuilding Chicago secondary. He is not the only pick Chicago hopes to make to bolster its defensive backfield this fall.
What's Going On With The Chicago D? Why Draft Kyle?
In 2013, Chicago started veterans Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, who was a free agent signing from Indianapolis. Due to injuries to Tillman, Jennings often took the opponent's top WR. In terms of depth, Kyle should at least fit it in the nickel, but will likely push the aging Tillman for his starting job.
The Bears still need a safety, and even more CB depth if it's there. They signed the beastly Jared Allen in free agency, so Fuller may be the recipient of some errant quails due to Allen's tremendous pass rush. Really, the Bears' problems weren't so much the pass last year as they were the run, as they gave up a franchise high of 2,583 yards, over 400 yards more than anyone else in the league!
The Bears re-signed Miami's DJ Williams after he missed a significant amount of last season due to injury. The Bears brought in a pair of safeties to help in run support in Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings, but they look like 2nd-tier starters at best. The safeties they replace, Chris Conte and Major Wright, are viewed as catastrophic failures, with Conte blowing coverage in the season's penultimate game that cost the Bears a shot at a playoff berth.
The Bears signed DT Jeremiah (aka Jay) Ratliff away from the Dallas Cowboys. He's a former Pro Bowler and is expected to complement the All-Pro Allen. They also lured LaMarr Houston away from Oakland, and he is versatile enough to play multiple positions along the line. So, with Allen replacing Julius Peppers, who departed for Green Bay, you have an even swap of elite players, and then you also add two very productive performers. Kyle Fuller will be able to focus on his job as a cover corner and know that the pressure will be there.
Another end in this rebuilding project is Willie Young, formerly of Detroit. He had three sacks last year, but has a high number of QB hurries, so the mission is obviously to have Young chase them into Allen or Houston, who can finish the sacks off.
At first glance, this looks to be a vast improvement over the group they fielded last year up front. Depth will always be a question, but it is for most teams anyway, as everyone is at the mercy of the injury gods, as Chicago can attest to after years of trouble with Brian Urlacher missing time. Notable to Hokies fans: James Anderson, who is quietly putting together the most productive linebacker career of any Hokie since Mike Johnson of the 1980s Cleveland Browns, is still unrestricted and seeking more money than Chicago appears willing to part with. Perhaps, they think some of the rushing D's woes are on him, but I say: If James wasn't making the tackles, then nobody would have!
Is The Job His?
Kyle's competition appears to be Sherrick McManis, along with Kelvin Hayden, neither of whom should unseat a player who is drafted in the first round. This looks to be a very good landing spot for a smart, tough, adaptable player like Fuller. I would also think they might put Fuller in on some special teams plays where they want to pressure the kick; he comes off edge with speed and precision.
What Will He Be Up Against?
Next year, Kyle will have to face Megatron (Calvin Johnson) twice when he plays Detroit. He will also have a tough passing attack to face against Green Bay with Aaron Rodgers and whatever four decent guys they care to put out there. He will have to come up in run support to deal with Adrian Peterson in Minnesota. There is plenty of star power to make his name against in the division.
Here's what Kyle's future teammate has to say about the job ahead of them:
What About Outside The Division?
Outside the division, Kyle will face off against teams from the AFC East and NFC South, with a big early season Sunday night game against the San Francisco 49ers and a late season game against the Cowboys at home. Kyle will also have to let his family know that he will have to miss Thanksgiving this year, as they play in Detroit.
Moving Into Elite Company
What great news for the Hokies, who get to see one of their most reliable and heady players drafted 5th-highest in school history, behind Bruce Smith and Michael Vick #1, DeAngelo Hall #8, and Eugene Chung #13. He is also the 21st DB drafted in the Beamer era, but just the 2nd first-round pick. There are undoubtedly some disappointed NFL teams who thought they could get him a little later, but congratulations to the Bears on being just a little shrewder, because as I said here: There is likely no safer pick than Kyle Fuller.
We'll be back with more on Kyle as it develops and the dust settles. For now we look forward to the other Hokies who don't yet have a home. Thanks for following us here at Gobbler Country, have a great Friday!