The Chicago Bears know they can’t rely just on newcomers this offseason. If they want to take another step towards success in 2021, they need some of their in-house players to step up. Particularly their draft picks from last year. Most are watching Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson. That isn’t a big surprise. They were the two highest picks and have the biggest upside in the eyes of most. Still, it would be welcome if others were able to step up as well.

Darnell Mooney was one of three 5th round picks by the Bears last year. Though the spotlight is on him after his strong rookie season, one of his fellow 5th rounders has apparently begun to establish himself in practices thus far. That being cornerback Kindle Vildor. Coaches were high on him coming out of Georgia Southern. Especially after his standout performance in the Senior Bowl.

When he managed to see action? It was a classic rookie experience.

He had some nice moments but the inexperience and lack of discipline were evident. Quarterbacks had an easy time targeting him in coverage, completing over 70% of their passes with a 131.2 passer rating and two touchdowns. To be fair, he was throw down a pretty rough gauntlet. Of the four games where he saw considerable action? They were against the likes of Justin Jefferson, Davante Adams, and Michael Thomas.

One can excuse him for struggling a bit. To his credit, Vildor didn’t seem discouraged. He played hard and had some nice flashes. It was a matter of him adjusting to the NFL speed and improving his discipline. By the sound of things at Halas Hall, he’s done just that.

Reporters in attendance and Matt Nagy himself were quick to mention how good he’s looked thus far. His playmaking has stepped up a notch and he’s also carrying himself with more swagger than before. Not afraid to jaw at people.

Vildor staking his claim on retooling Chicago Bears defense

A vacuum was created at the cornerback position this offseason when both Kyle Fuller and Buster Skrine were released. Suddenly two of the three starters from the 2020 defense were gone. That leaves two major vacancies to fill, making training camp a huge battleground for others on the roster not named Johnson. It appears Vildor isn’t wasting time on letting coaches know he’s ready.

Most people likely had veteran Desmond Trufant as an early favorite to win that CB2 spot. Being a former Pro Bowler, that makes sense. However, his sketchy health history has many worried. It would be a fun story if Vildor were able to perform well enough in camp to where he steals the job. Then Trufant can either play in the slot or as a primary backup where he might fit best.

A lot hinges on the secondary this year.

It isn’t certain what the Chicago Bears will get from their pass rush. Khalil Mack is still a monster but nobody else really stepped up to help him last season. Robert Quinn was a disaster and even Akiem Hicks wasn’t quite the force he used to be. With the array of quarterbacks this team will face, they need corners who are ready to cover. It is a good sign that Vildor has begun to emerge.