Now that former Pro Bowler Mike Brown has packed his bags and will not be back in a Bears uniform, the Chicago secondary is going to have a much different feel this coming season.
With the 190th-overall pick in Round 6, the Bears selected Oregon State safety Al Afalava. At 5-11 and 212 pounds, Afalava spent the majority of his career with the Beavers as an in-the-box strong safety, but he will be asked to make the switch to free safety since there is room on the roster to compete right away at that position. Known as a hard-hitter and an impressive performer in the weight room, the Hawaii native won the team's annual rock, paper, scissors competition as a junior – he was eliminated in the first round his senior year.
Currently ahead of Afalava on the depth chart at free safety are Josh Bullocks, who was signed in free agency after not living up to expectations in New Orleans, and Zack Bowman, who played cornerback as a rookie.
Afalava played strong safety in college but projects at free safety. (Wily Low/AP Images)
Like most rookies taken on Day 2 of the draft, Afalava will most likely have to make his presence felt on special teams if he wants to secure a spot on the 53-man roster coming out of training camp. He does have extensive experience on the coverage units as a collegian, saying specifically that he's a big fan of tearing down the field on the kickoff team. The Bears tend to load their special-teams units with linebackers and defensive backs, which bodes well for Afalava having an orange C on his helmet in 2009.
On the down side, Afalava is the second Chicago draft choice Sunday – joining Texas defensive end Henry Melton – to have some legal issues, stemming from a hit-and-run incident that resulted in a team suspension.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.