Bears Go Small

General manager Jerry Angelo has shown a knack for finding defensive talent in any round. Whether he struck gold with Danieal Manning with the 42nd overall pick or he's a major reach remains to be seen.

The Bears have stayed away from small school players in recent years. It could have something to do with how things worked out with Roosevelt Williams. The second round pick out of Tuskegee lasted just one season with the Bears.

Danieal Manning came to Halas Hall for a pre-draft visit. The Bears picked up their pursuit of Manning as far back as the East-West Shrine game.

The five-foot-11, 202-pounder can play safety or cornerback, while also having the ability to contribute in the return game.

"I don't know that he can step in right away," Angelo said. "We don't need anybody to come in and step in right away. I said going into this we just want to make sure we looked at what we want to improve upon. There are certain positions we wanted to do that and obviously the secondary was one of them."

Manning earned All-Conference and All-American selections as a junior after totaling 49 tackles, 4 interceptions and 3 pass deflections. He also averaged 12.8 yards on 19 punt returns with one touchdown and 26.8 yards on 13 kick returns with another score. As a sophomore he made 54 stops, 6 picks and 2 pass break-ups. He averaged 29.2 yards on 13 kick returns and one touchdown as well as a 22-yard average on 15 punt returns, with two more scores.

"He's got strong, strong traits," Angelo said. "We don't have anything like him physically speaking in the secondary at the safety position. We felt like if he needs that year of training, nurturing, we have the ability to do that and he does bring the return game. Hopefully he is going to impact us on special teams as he is developing."

Despite having 4.48 forty speed, Manning is raw when it comes to his technique. Considering the level of competition he faced in Division II, his transition to the NFL could take some time. However, he should be able to contribute on special teams as a rookie.

If you're wondering how a talent like Manning ended up at Abilene Christian, he originally signed with Nebraska but didn't qualify because of an SAT score.

Some scouts saw Manning strictly as a safety, while others believe he can also line up at corner. The Bears are listing him as a safety that can also move over to cornerback.

"Obviously, he's going to need a lot of work, didn't get the hands on coaching you would normally get at a bigger school," Angelo said. "Again, we like his competitiveness, like his work ethic, obviously we like what he brings in terms of his physical traits. That's what in the end made our decision." ranked Manning as the ninth best safety prospect, earning a three-star rating.

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