Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Chicago Bears Offer First Hint Of Changes Coming At Safety

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With all the talk about the offense this coming offseason, it is easy to forget that significant changes might be looming on the Chicago Bears’ defense as well. Especially at the safety position. Three of their top four players at the position will be free agents next month. Tashaun Gipson, Deon Bush, and DeAndre Houston-Carson. This doesn’t include Marqui Christian and Teez Tabor, who also logged time at safety. They too are free agents. That means Eddie Jackson is the only notable player still under contract this offseason.

This leaves one to wonder if the Bears might be more active at safety in the coming months than people realize, especially with a new GM in Ryan Poles and a new head coach in Matt Eberflus. Both men likely have a different outlook on what they want from that position. A vision that may not include holdovers like Bush or Houston-Carson. The first hint of this possibility surfaced when Justin Melo of The Draft Network reported the Bears had met with standout Virginia safety Joey Blount.

It isn’t hard to see why they might be interested.

Blount was a consistent force as a starter for the Cavaliers throughout his four seasons. In that time, he collected 269 tackles, nine interceptions, 5.5 sacks, 19 tackles for a loss, and three forced fumbles. He embodies a lot of what Eberflus wants in a player. Smart, tough, physical, aggressive, and has a nose for the football. He also earned a reputation for versatility. Virginia deployed him in deep coverage and around the line of scrimmage as a blitzer. Both with equal success.

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Blount seemed to take an almost perverse pleasure in torturing one quarterback in particular. Pittsburgh star Kenny Pickett. The future 1st round pick was excellent in college but always seemed to run into problems when facing Virginia. In their first meeting back in 2019, Blount sacked him twice and intercepted him once. Then two years later in a rematch, the safety sacked and intercepted again. It was a testament to Blount’s instinct and intelligence as a player.

Chicago Bears have one thing to be concerned about

The primary criticism facing him is his athletic upside. Some evaluators have reservations about his speed. There were times when he’d get beat down the field and fail to make up any ground on receivers. Remember that Poles and Eberflus mentioned they wanted a fast football team. Speed is a big deal to them. That makes Blount’s upcoming pro day vital. It could scare teams away from drafting him if he performs poorly in the 40-yard dash.

It is fair to trust both men with this decision. They have strong track records when it comes to identifying top safety talent. Poles served in a Chiefs scouting department that drafted the likes of Eric Berry and Juan Thornhill. Eberflus heavily recruited eventual Pro Bowler William Moore at Missouri and helped the Colts draft quality starters, Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon.

If Blount can play, these two will find out.

This also suggests he won’t be the only safety in this draft class they’re looking at. Defensive coordinator Allan Williams mentioned that his defense is built up the middle. That means three-technique defensive tackle, the off-ball linebackers, and the safeties. They must solidify those with good players for it to work. Don’t be surprised if the Chicago Bears draft somebody at the position this April.

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