A big part of the NFL draft is not only finding good players. It’s doing so before other teams snag them away from you. For years it has felt like the Chicago Bears have been undercut at the last second. Ryan Clady went two picks ahead of them in 2008. Melvin Ingram went one pick ahead of them in 2012. Aaron Donald went one pick ahead of them in 2014. It isn’t just a game of inches on the field. However, sometimes the Bears find themselves on the opposite side of these situations too. Take Jaquan Brisker, for example.
Behind-the-scenes footage showed that GM Ryan Poles was zeroed in on the Penn State safety and Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon even before making his first pick at 39th overall. They were his #2 and #1 guys, respectively. He chose Gordon first, believing the odds were better that Brisker might still be there when the Bears picked again at 48th. That gamble proved correct, and Poles got his guy.
He has no idea how close it was, though.
Over the past month, it has become apparent to some experts that the New Orleans Saints really wanted Brisker. They thought they had him with their 49th pick too. Then the Bears struck. When that happened, it is believed the team tried to trade down. When they failed to find a taker, they panicked and took the next defensive back on their board in Alontae Taylor of Tennessee. John Sigler of Saints Wire said as much.
Feels like Saints panicked when Brisker got picked at 48 and just took the next DB
— John Sigler (@john_siglerr) April 30, 2022
He wasn’t alone. Leigh Oleszczak of Who Dat Dish said the same thing in an article a few days later.
“In the second round, it felt like the Saints panicked a bit when Jaquan Brisker went off the board one pick ahead of them. That led them to grab Alontae Taylor out of Tennessee, which felt like a huge reach.”
Many outlets covering the Saints had mocked Brisker to the team. It was obvious they needed safety help. Both of their starters from last season were gone. Marcus Williams left in free agency, and Malcolm Jenkins retired. That would explain why they signed Tyrann Mathieu a few days after the draft.
Jaquan Brisker is already shining in practice.
Coaches have gushed over him at every opportunity. One Bears beat writer even said the rookie already looks like the best safety on the roster. Yes, it’s early, but this kind of buzz should not be ignored. It can often be a sign of things to come. Darnell Mooney and Jaylon Johnson received similar praise back in 2020. Both of them have turned out to be big hits for the Bears. The best part is Brisker is in a great situation.
Matt Eberflus’ new defense is a variation of the classic Tampa-2 scheme. That system has a storied reputation for turning physical safeties into superstars. See John Lynch and Bob Sanders. Jaquan Brisker is every bit as athletic and physical as them. If he can stay healthy, there is no doubt he has All-Pro potential.
That would set the Bears’ defense up beautifully for the future.
It’s hard to feel sorry for the Saints. They’ve come up on the right end of the draft many times in the past. Seeing them squirm was a welcome change for once. One can only hope the Bears made the right call.