Undrafted: Cornerbacks

Just because a prospect isn't drafted doesn't mean he can't be an NFL player. When the lockout is lifted, Chicago will be in a fierce race to sign a number of these undrafted free agents.

Does anyone remember Tim Jennings' performance against the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game last year? Where he basically allowed Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and James Jones to do whatever they felt like on the field?

Me too.

So, despite the lip service Chicago Bears officials are paying Chris Conte and his value as a free safety, a third-round pick would have been much wiser spent on a cornerback.

Jennings played well at times last year but getting eaten alive by the Packers' receivers showed he doesn't have what it takes to match up against the league's elite. It's the reason the Indianapolis Colts released the 5-8, 185-pounder the previous offseason. He definitely makes the most out of his talent, and he's a hard worker, but he'll continue to be exploited by opposing offenses going forward.

CB Tim Jennings
Joe Robbins/Getty

On the other side, Charles Tillman, while still serviceable, peaked about two years ago. He can still create turnovers with the best of them but he's no longer a shutdown cornerback. At the Scouting Combine, Lovie Smith essentially said the same thing, hinting that Tillman may be better suited as a safety.

D.J. Moore played nickelback last season and performed very well. He was one of the most efficient blitzers in the league last year and has locked up the third cornerback spot.

Then there are the two wildcards: Zack Bowman and Joshua Moore. Bowman was the starter coming out of training camp last year. He's by far the most athletic corner on the squad and has ideal size (6-1, 193) for the position. Yet he lacked the basic instincts needed to succeed in Lovie's Cover-2 defense. His attitude was also called into question.

Moore, the Bears' fifth round pick in 2010, only played three games his rookie season. He is a sure tackler who was outstanding in man coverage while playing for Kansas State. Moore is not the biggest (5-11, 188) or strongest (two bench reps at the combine) player, but he does carry a lot of the intangibles the Bears look for in their corners. He's instinctive, quick and is a ball hawk. Chicago's staff will give him every opportunity to become a starter opposite Tillman this year.

It's possible the Bears will sign a big-name free agent cornerback – Johnathan Joseph would be a nice fit – but a more likely strategy is for them to use training camp as a proving ground for whomever wants the job the most. To fuel that competition, the Bears would be wise to bring in a few of the following undrafted free agents, all of which are talented enough to challenge for a roster spot.

Kendric Burney, North Carolina (5-9, 186)
Burney is a very experienced, smart player who gives 100 percent on every play. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't have the size or speed (4.71 40) NFL teams look for. Yet in the Cover 2, his lack of speed won't hurt him. He's not afraid of contact and could challenge at strong safety as well.

Ryan Jones, Northwest Missouri St. (5-11, 198)
Jones is extremely athletic. He has good size and speed (4.46). In man coverage, he was eaten alive in college, which is likely why he wasn't drafted. Playing in the Cover 2 would mask that deficiency. He would need to work on his tackling as well but he's talented enough to make the roster.

Vance Cuff, Georgia (5-10, 178)
Cuff has a lot of physical upside and could be coached into a starter down the line. Right now though, he lacks on-the-field intelligence and isn't a tough player. He got by in college due purely to his athleticism. He's raw but the potential is there.

Antareis Bryan, Baylor (6-1, 190)
Bryan is one of the most physically gifted players not selected in the draft. He ran a 4.34 40 at his pro day and has ideal size for a Chicago corner. His issue has been durability, which is why he wasn't drafted. If he can stay healthy, he can be a quality starter in the NFL.

Mario Butler, Georgia Tech (6-0, 182)
Butler is not a burner (4.65) but he shows great instincts in zone coverage. He's mentally tough and very durable. He has the size to be an NFL player but he's afraid of contact. He always gives good effort though, which would make him a good addition to the training-camp competition.

CB Jason Teague
Matthew Emmons/US Presswire

Jason Teague, TCU (6-1, 184)
Teague is a solid player who should have been drafted. He has decent speed (4.54) and isn't afraid to get physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage. Fundamentally, he needs a lot of work, but he's a rangy defender who has shown great instincts in zone coverage.

Devon Torrence, Ohio State (6-0, 199)
A former wide receiver, Torrence has good awareness and outstanding hands. He's relatively slow (4.68) but played well in zone coverage. He's a raw prospect who needs plenty of work. A patient coaching staff could turn him into an NFL player down the line.

Andrew McGee, Oklahoma State (5-11, 195)
McGee has a long injury history, which includes a broken neck in 2009 that nearly ended his football career. He's not very fast but he's a quality player who is athletic enough to matchup against NFL receivers in the Cover 2.

Ryan Hill, Miami (5-11, 202)
Hill is raw as a cornerback, having spent his first two collegiate years as a wide receiver. As such, he doesn't have a natural feel for the position and will need to work on his technique. Yet he's athletically gifted enough to play in the NFL. His senior season, he surpassed teammate DeMarcus Van Dyke (drafted 81st overall by the Raiders) on Miami's depth chart.

Kevin Rutland, Missouri (6-0, 190)
Rutland has good size and decent speed (4.58). He's a bit raw and needs to work on his fundamentals.. He's versatile enough to play corner or safety and is very good on special teams, which could earn him an invite to Chicago's training camp.

Darrin Walls, Notre Dame (6-0, 191)
As far as size and speed (4.42) are concerned, Walls has it all. He's a physical corner who is an outstanding tackler. He has some well-documented character concerns though and many scouts questioned his desire. Athletically though, he's top tier and would be a solid addition to the backend of the Bears' roster.

Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport com To read him every day, visit BearReport com and become a Chicago Bears insider

Bear Report Top Stories