A warrior on the field and a leader in the locker room, Charles Tillman has become a fan favorite at Soldier Field for his physical style and knack for forcing turnovers.
However, it's that same physical style that keeps him constantly banged up and rarely operating at full capacity. While he did pick off two passes in 2009 and was among the league leaders with six forced fumbles, it's impossible to ignore that his coverage skills are diminishing. Perhaps not even the best corner in the Windy City anymore after Zack Bowman registered six interceptions this year, it may be time to switch Tillman to free safety since the Monsters of the Midway have had such a difficult time finding a permanent solution at that crucial position.
Moving Tillman is not without its hazards, as Corey Graham is the only other player on the roster worthy of starting opposite Bowman, so general manager Jerry Angelo is going to have to sift through the corner prospects this April.
Scout.com has confirmed that Kentucky cornerback Trevard Lindley had a meeting with the Bears at the Senior Bowl in Mobile.
Chicago likes big, tall corners that can tackle consistently in run support, and even though Lindley has a wiry build, he doesn't mind sticking his nose in there against the run and does an adequate job getting off blocks. Just like Tillman, Lindley likes to punch the ball away from opponents and has a history of being matched up mano-a-mano against an offense's primary target, like Alabama's Julio Jones or LSU's Brandon LaFell. A four-year letterman for the Wildcats, he intercepted 10 passes in his career and took two of them all the way back for touchdowns.
The 6-0, 175-pound Lindley is currently the No. 9 corner in Scout.com's rankings heading into the 2010 NFL Draft.
JC's Take: Tillman potentially switching positions seems to be an annual topic at Halas Hall, and while coach Lovie Smith continues to shoot down the idea, Chicago's problems at both strong and free safety have to be taken seriously one of these days.
If Smith finally falls on his sword and pulls the trigger, then the cornerback depth chart will need an addition or two because Graham regressed after an encouraging 2008, former Pro Bowler Nathan Vasher is soon to hit the cutting-room floor and D.J. Moore made no impact whatsoever as a rookie. Smith said before this past year that moving Tillman to safety didn't make sense because he was still the team's best corner, but with Bowman periodically flashing big-time ability, one can comfortably argue he is now Chicago's top cover man. Meanwhile, free safety continues to be an issue since Danieal Manning can't be trusted as the last line of defense.
While corner may not be enough of a priority to take Lindley in Round 3, he makes a lot of sense if he's still on the board in Round 4 – even if that's where the Bears nabbed the currently-disappointing Moore last April.
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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.
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