Drafting Kyler Gordon at 39th overall wasn’t a huge surprise for the Chicago Bears. Good cornerbacks are vital in today’s NFL, and the defense had nobody of substance outside of Jaylon Johnson going into the draft. It made sense. The real surprise came when GM Ryan Poles secured Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker with the 48th pick. Taking a safety over a wide receiver or offensive lineman was hard to understand.
Matt Bowen didn’t need long to realize why the pick was obvious to the Bears. A former player himself, he’s become one of the most respected tape analysts in the country for ESPN. He spent time evaluating the recent 2022 draft class to determine the reasons behind every pick. After digesting the information, he wrote a column on what he considers the ten best player-team fits in the draft.
Brisker going to Chicago was one of them.
“Why he is a perfect fit: Brisker is a classic fit for Matt Eberflus’ scheme in Chicago as a defender with multidimensional traits. His play style reminds me of Bills safety Micah Hyde. With a smooth pedal, split-field range and easy transition ability, Brisker can drive downhill on the ball from the deep half or match vertically in Quarters. When the Bears do play their single-high schemes, look for Brisker to rotate down, tracking the ball in the run game or lurking underneath in coverage.”
Hyde is probably one of the more underrated safeties in the NFL. Thanks to his blend of size, athleticism, and instincts, he’s played both the strong and free safety positions with equal success. It is why he is a two-time All-Pro and a vital component of the Bills’ recent resurgence in the AFC. The scary part is Brisker is bigger and faster. If his instincts are on the same level, and there’s evidence to suggest they are, then he has the ceiling of a superstar.
Even better, this defensive scheme has a long history of elevating safeties to peak success. John Lynch became a Hall of Famer in it with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Bob Sanders won Defensive Player of the Year in it during his run with the Indianapolis Colts. Mike Brown also made All-Pro in 2005 during the Lovie Smith era. Brisker is as talented as any of those guys. If he puts in the work, there is no telling what heights he might reach.
Jaquan Brisker doesn’t lack the confidence of a star.
When the Bears called to inform him he was being drafted, the young safety stated not once but twice that they were getting the steal of the draft. Some might see that as arrogance, but it is a good thing. Go back throughout human history and you’ll find most professional athletes considered all-time greats had at least one thing in common. They had large egos. It is almost necessary to handle the massive amounts of pressure and attention that comes with their jobs.
It seems Jaquan Brisker has the mentality needed to function in a place like Chicago. While he may not have the stigma of being a 1st round pick, expectations are still high. The Bears picked him over what many felt were greater positions of need. Poles and other scouts have talked the rookie up multiple times. They believe he has special traits they couldn’t afford to pass up.
Lofty standards are established before he plays a down.
Welcome to the NFL. Brisker doesn’t seem like the type to be intimidated, though. He and Gordon can form the backbone of the Bears’ secondary for the next 5-6 years at least. If Johnson also continues to play well, this might be the best back four the franchise has fielded in well over a decade.