Bears Eye Potential First Round Pick

Cornerback has been mentioned as a possible direction for the Bears with the 26th overall pick, but it appears the team is contemplating a safety. See what player head coach Lovie Smith talked with at a pro day on Wednesday.

Even though Mike Brown is coming off a Pro Bowl season, the Bears are concerned about his health. Due to injury, he's missed 18 games over the past two years. Chris Harris started 13 games as a rookie season, but still needs to take a step forward to get a stronghold on the job.

The depth at safety is a concern with Mike Green's future with the Bears in doubt. Brandon McGowan needed knee surgery at the end of the regular season, which puts his status for training camp up in the air. Todd Johnson seemed to fall out of favor with the coaches at times.

The long list of questions means the Bears are likely to address safety this off-season. By missing out on Adam Archuleta in free agency the position could become a higher priority in the draft.

Ko Simpson, who attended South Carolina for just two-and-a-half years, has played with the first team since his freshman season. There were concerns about Simpson's speed, but he turned in a 40 time of 4.47 seconds at last month's NFL Combine. He also had a vertical leap of more than 40 inches to go with his six-foot, 209-pound frame.

In his time with the Gamecocks, Simpson showed a nose for the ball as well as being able to help in run support. He had 61 tackles as a freshman, while leading the SEC with 6 interceptions. Although he only picked off one ball in 2005, he had 8 pass break-ups and led the team in tackles with 103.

At South Carolina's pro day, Lovie Smith took the time to talk with Simpson and watched him as he went through drills. When matched in coverage, he spent the majority of his time at South Carolina covering tight ends and running backs. He's purely a safety and has no experience at cornerback.

With more pressing needs at cornerback and tight end, Smith still deems safety as an important position in the grand scheme of the defense.

"I've always put value on the safety position," Smith said. "In Tampa we had John Lynch and we treated him like star, which he was. In St. Louis we had Adam Archuleta, who's a great player. We have Mike Brown at our place right now. Our style of defense relies a lot on the safety. It was never down on our totem pole."


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