Chicago Bears 2016 NFL Draft Preview: Mid-Round Cornerbacks

If the Bears choose to wait until the middle rounds of the 2016 NFL Draft to address the secondary, GM Ryan Pace should consider one of these five cornerback prospects.

The Chicago Bears have needs in the defensive secondary at both cornerback and safety.

Questions abound at both positions. Is Kyle Fuller a true long-term option? Is Tracy Porter good enough to play the lock-down No. 1 role? Is Adrian Amos the real deal? Can Antrel Rolle find the fountain of youth? 

Those are all legitimate concerns for GM Ryan Pace, who did almost nothing - other than re-signing the 30-year-old Porter - to address the secondary in free agency. As such, Pace will surely be considering corners and safeties throughout the 2016 NFL Draft. 

I've addressed in detail the top cornerbacks in this year's draft, yet there is plenty of corner talent deep into the draft. With that in mind, here are five mid- and late-round cornerbacks the Bears should consider on the third day of the draft. 

D.J. White, Georgia Tech (5-11, 193)

White was a three-year starter for the Yellow Jackets and was named a team captain last season. He doesn't have elite size or speed (4.49 40-yard dash at the combine) but there's no denying his overall athleticism. A very quick corner, White has the fluidity and instincts to be a Year 1 starter as a nickelback for the Bears. He has good balance and short-area quickness, and great burst on balls thrown his way. He's a willing tackler and brings some pop. The Bears are thin in the slot, which should make White a target for Pace in the middle rounds.
Projected: 3rd-4th Round

Ryan Smith, North Carolina Central (5-11, 189)

Smith was a basketball player in high school who didn't start playing football until his senior year. He played two years at safety before moving to cornerback his junior and senior seasons. As such, he's very raw for his position but Smith's upside is very high. He's physical in press coverage and has great footwork, allowing him to mirror receivers with ease. He reads pass catchers very well and has good closing burst and quickness. He's also a solid tackler and set the NCCU team record for career solo tackles (168), which is rare for a corner. He lacks experience and has short arms, and there are concerns about his level of competition in college, but Smith's film doesn't lie. He has starter potential at the next level. 
Projected: 5th Round

Kalan Reed, Southern Mississippi (5-11, 192)

Reed was a stud at Southern Mississippi. He had 18 combined interceptions and pass breakups last year, allowing just a 48.3 completion percentage against. At his Pro Day, Reed put on a show, running a 4.38 40-yard dash and posting a whopping 41.5 vertical jump. He has speed, burst and athleticism for days. Reed lacks ideal awareness in coverage and is susceptible to double moves, and NFL teams question his collegiate level of competition. Yet in terms of production, size and athleticism, Reed rivals a lot of the top corners in this draft. He could be a late-round steal. 
Projected: 5th-6th Round

Tavon Young, Temple (5-9, 183)

Young is small and lacks power (9 bench press reps) but he makes up for his lack of size and strength with confidence and aggressiveness in coverage. He plays bigger than his listed height and weight, and has outstanding ball skills. There may not be a more aggressive corner in this class when the ball is in the air. He showed well at the Senior Bowl and did not back down to the bigger receivers in Mobile. He's not blazing fast but his 4.46 speed is good enough. Young will have to transition to nickelback at the pro level due to his size but his play style could make life miserable for NFL slot receivers. 
Projected: 5th-6th Round

James Bradberry, Samford (6-1, 211) 

Bradberry began his career as a safety at Arkansas State but his desire to play corner led to his transfer to Samford, where he started four seasons at the boundary position. He has elite size and excels in press coverage, an area in which the Bears need help. His 33 3/8-inch arms allow him to easily disrupt receivers at the line of scrimmage and knock away passes that would be out of reach for other corners. Bradberry needs to work on his footwork and did not perform well at the Senior Bowl, so he's a project. His size will give him immediate value on special teams and may allow him to play safety in the NFL. As a versatile secondary defender with upside, Bradberry is worth a late-round flier. 
Projected: 6th Round


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