Thomas Graham Jr. didn’t get much of a chance to play last season. That is a shame because he looked pretty good when he did. Despite obvious deficiencies at cornerback, the Chicago Bears coaching staff kept him on the bench until injuries forced their hand. Then in his debut, he has three passes defended. Fans were irate the team hadn’t given him a proper chance sooner. Now it finally looks like the new regime is ready to correct that mistake. With OTAs and minicamps over, it looks like Graham is the current favorite at the nickel cornerback position.
This is a surprising development considering the Bears signed veteran Tavon Young in free agency. He felt like the favorite for that job when practices began. It speaks to Graham’s off-season work that he is making such an impression. He explained on Bears All Access that Darius Slay was an inspiration for him to improve his understanding of slot work since the Pro Bowler plays inside and outside. However, he also admitted that part of his decision was driven by a desire to avoid being on ESPN “the bad way.”
Thomas Graham is a man with priorities. Respect.
Jokes aside, it is great to see the young cornerback not getting discouraged by the chaos surrounding the Bears over the past few months. The regime that drafted him is gone. Rather than get depressed, he saw it instead as an opportunity. Head coach Matt Eberflus said everybody on the roster was getting a fresh start. They would get a chance to earn their way into the starting lineup. Graham is becoming proof of that.
Training camp lay ahead. That is where the real challenge begins. Looking good in shorts is one thing. He’ll have to do it in pads when everybody gets to be physical. If Thomas Graham navigates the next month well, he has a chance to become part of why might be the youngest starting secondary in the NFL alongside Jaylon Johnson (23) and rookies Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker. It would be a great story after what he went through getting to the NFL following the COVID-19 pandemic.