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Chicago Bears 2017 NFL Scouting Combine Watch: Safety

Five safeties the Chicago Bears will be watching closely during Monday's workouts at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine.

Stop me if you've heard this before: The Chicago Bears are in the market for a starting safety. 

As has been the case for more than a decade, the Bears head into this off-season searching for stability on the back end of the defense. 

GM Ryan Pace has youth at the position but he lacks playmaking safeties, which is a big reason the Bears had the fewest turnovers in NFL history in 2016. 

As such, expect Bears scouts to be on the edge of their seats during Monday's workouts at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, when safeties hit the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. 

Here are five safeties who have a lot to prove in Indianapolis. 

Jamal Adams, LSU

Adams is considered one of the top two safeties in this year's class and many believe he's the top overall talent regardless of position. He plays like a linebacker against the run, using his elite blend of speed, power and aggressiveness to fill out multiple highlight reels full of big hits. Adams plays downhill against the run and he's just as fearless in coverage, where he has top-tier awareness, vision and ball skills. At 6-1, 213 he has perfect size and he's a born leader. Some mock drafts have the Bears selecting Adams with the third overall pick. Ideally the Bears will find a way to trade back, possibly to 6th overall with the Jets, and still land Adams, as he appears to be a faster version of Landon Collins. 

Budda Baker, Washington

Baker is one of the most aggressive safeties in this class. He has outstanding explosiveness and burst, which allows him to cover ground in a hurry. He's also instinctive in coverage and can slide into the slot when needed. Baker is a high-character leader whose passion as a player jumps off the game tape. The knock on Baker is his size (5-10, 180) which hampers him when trying to cover big tight ends or take down big running backs. He's a pure free safety, and part-time slot corner, in the NFL. If he can add a bit of weight, Baker has the playmaking ability to be a starter for the Bears immediately, assuming he's still on the board when Pace picks in the second round. 

Marcus Williams, Utah

Williams is a very intriguing prospect for the Bears, a team desperate for playmakers. His last two seasons, for which he was named first-team all-conference both years, Williams combined for 11 interceptions, 4 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries. In single-high sets, Williams has very good range and instincts. He's rarely beat deep and has great hands, allowing him to capitalize on 50/50 passes. Scouts use the term "feel" when describing him due to his prowess playing centerfield. In addition, he's a very reliable open-field tackler, which is extremely important. Williams is tall but a little thin (6-1, 195) and doesn't play with top-tier power, so he could fall to the third round, where the Bears would be happy to snatch him up, especially if he shows well during Monday's workout. 

Marcus Maye, Florida

Maye (6-0, 216) is an All-American who can play free or strong safety at the next level. He has the speed to cover sideline-to-sideline on the back end but he's at his best playing downhill against the run. He's plays a very physical brand of football and he strikes ball carriers with authority. Maye is very opportunistic in coverage as well and was credited with an interception or pass breakup on 21 percent of his targets, which is exceptional. That said, he was also credited with 10 TDs allowed and has difficulty tracking the deep ball. If the Bears are going to use a third-round pick on the former Gator, Pace needs to see better awareness and instincts from Maye during deep-ball drills in Indianapolis.

Obi Melifonwu, Connecticut

Melifonwu is an athletic freak whose size (6-4, 219) is on par with Seahawks All-Pro safety Kam Chancellor (6-3, 232). Melifonwu is a former cornerback who has the size and coverage ability to matchup with NFL tight ends. He's also a rangy tackler who is dependable in the open field. A four-year starter for the Huskies, Melifonwu has desired experience yet he's still raw, particularly in coverage. He has an extremely high ceiling but it could take him a few years to refine his awareness in coverage, which is why he's projected as a second-round pick. But if he ever reaches his immense potential, Melifonwu will go down as a second-round steal for the Bears. 


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