There has been very little consistency at the safety position for the Chicago Bears over the past decade. The Bears have struggled to find two quality starting safeties and have suffered in a division filled with playmaking wide receivers.
But this year’s NFL draft may have delivered the Bears a stable safety — something they have needed for years.
It was speculated the club could draft a safety in an early round this year but instead the front office focused on wide receiver, defensive tackle, offensive line and running back before addressing the safety position. Then came the fifth round when the Bears selected Adrian Amos out of Penn State.
Despite not having many meetings with Amos, the Bears saw the opportunity to grab the playmaking safety.
“I really didn’t talk too much with the Bears through the process,” said Amos. “I spoke with a couple of people at the Senior Bowl. I feel like it’s a good situation there to come in and compete for a position.”
He did however have a connection to the Bears prior to being drafted. Amos played against second-year cornerback Kyle Fuller who went to a rival high school in Baltimore. The two even worked out together during high school and now look to become staples in the Bears defense of the future.
“He was always smooth. He always could cover,” Amos said of Fuller. “A lot of us in Baltimore, we’ve been around each other for a long time so it’s good to be able to play with him.”
With glaring needs at safety – the club’s projected starters, Ryan Mundy and Antrel Rolle, are both over 30 – the Bears are hoping the 6-0 rookie can be a player they can trust at free safety for the long-term. Amos wasn’t graded well leading up to the draft but he may just be the team’s most intriguing pick.
It might take some time for Amos to make an impact right away in the Bears new 3-4 defensive scheme. He played cornerback for his first three seasons at Penn State before transitioning to safety his senior year.
“I played corner most of my career then moved over to safety,” said Amos. “I’ve been getting better and better at safety, especially over the past year playing safety.”
Amos has experience everywhere in the secondary, playing both safety positions, boundary cornerback and even some nickel in his career. The versatile Amos shouldn’t have a problem fitting in once he learns defensive coordinator Vic Fangio’s system.
Will it take some time for him to learn? Probably, but Amos could make an impact sooner rather than later.
The Bears already have veterans Mundy and Rolle, as well as second-year man Brock Vereen, but Amos might be the most talented free safety on the roster. He’s a fast safety too – he showed off his speed by running a 4.37 40-yard dash at his pro day.
One thing that really stands about Amos when watching him on tape is his excellent coverage skills. According to Pro Football Focus, Amos allowed just a QB rating of 13 when he was targeted in coverage. That was the lowest in college football among defensive backs. Coverage is something the Bears are lacking in the secondary, which could be Amos' ticket to early playing time.
“I feel like my best asset is my coverage,” said Amos. “I can cover the slot, cover tight ends, cover outside receivers. I feel like as a DB you have to be able to cover and should be the No. 1 thing that you have in your repertoire, to be able to cover.”
The safety position battle going into training camp will surely be one to watch and Amos’ coverage skills may just be the advantage he needs over his teammates.
Despite his strengths coming out of Penn State, Amos knows there are other areas of his game on which he can improve.
“I just want to work on getting better every day I can get better at everything,” said Amos. “I can get better at tackling, better at wrapping up, better in coverage. I can improve in all aspects in the game. I’m still young, still learning the game. I feel like there’s no ceiling.”
Being the eighth safety taken in what some may call a weak safety class doesn’t bother Amos, as he looks to prove the doubters wrong.
“You can’t tell this is a weak class until we get on the field in the NFL,” he said. “There are a lot of classes that seem to be strong but don’t pan out that way. Once we get on the field, we can prove what kind of talent this class has.”
Earning playing time as a rookie in Chicago, which is probable, is something Amos could use to prove his doubters wrong.
Zack Pearson graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a journalism degree and has years of experience covering the Chicago Bears. He has written for BleacherReport, FanSided and founded ChiCitySports.