The Chicago Bears had plenty of reasons they liked Jaquan Brisker going into the 2022 draft. He was a great athlete, instinctive, versatile, and highly intelligent. Offenses couldn’t avoid him. Yet his physicality was a big part of why GM Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus loved him. Both said they wanted more violence on their roster. Brisker showcased tons of that during his time at Penn State. It didn’t matter if it was against a wide receiver or offensive linemen. He threw his body around with outright malice when times called for it.
That profile aligns with great Bears safeties of the past, including Mike Brown, Gary Fencik, and Richie Petitbon. Making big plays is important, but it is also about playing with an edge. It is about making the other team fear your presence physically. Certain people aren’t born with a natural affinity for violence. Brisker is not one of them. That much was evident even before he started high school, as Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic found out.
When Terry Smith was the head coach at Gateway High School outside Pittsburgh, he had to remove Brisker from the drills.
Brisker wasn’t on the team. He was the ball boy, watching his older brothers, Tale’ and Shawn, but he wanted to join.
“He’s in there trying to hit guys — guys had pads on, and he didn’t have pads on, so we’ve got to throw him out the drills,” Smith said. “But he just loved it. He was always around. We set up bag drills and he’s doing the bag drills with us. He was just a sponge.”
Bo Melton from Rutgers taking a scary hit from Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker here.
Brisker could hear his name called on Day 3 this year.pic.twitter.com/rH7zyLi2vE
— Boom or Bust: The Draft Show (@BoomOrBustDraft) December 5, 2020
Jaquan Brisker has no fear, and that is vital to his task.
The biggest reason many safeties can’t establish themselves as a feared presence is they’re not willing to apply full force on their tackles. Some players have a natural self-preservation instinct. Brisker turned that switch off long ago. Either that, or he was never born with it. The guy loves to hit. Even more importantly, he understands he can’t do it all the time. The rules of today’s football make that dangerous due to penalties.
There are times and places when a good hit is warranted. Jaquan Brisker has mastered the art of knowing when those times are. Receiver going across the middle or a quarterback scrambling near the sideline? Nope. A running back going for a lane or a bubble screen? Yep. That is what makes the 2nd round pick so enticing. He understands the game from the brain’s and brawn’s points of view. Such players are rare.