Spotlight Shine: Ranking the CBs

Each week during the offseason, Tyson Qualls will analyze one position for the Chicago Bears and see how they measure up with the other 31 teams in the NFL. Where do Zack Bowman and the CBs rank?

Summary
The Bears boast two solid cornerbacks in Charles Tillman and Zack Bowman. Backing them up are Corey Graham, Tim Jennings, D.J. Moore and fifth-round pick Joshua Moore. All of the subs are capable of playing in moderation, but if they were given the reins for a long period of time, the Bears would struggle. Chicago needs to address a lack of depth at the corner position in order to prepare for an injury to Tillman or Bowman. Possible additions could be Deshea Townsend or Nick Harper.

Strengths
With two starting cornerbacks that stand above six feet tall, the Bears have the size to compete with most wide receivers in the NFL. Tillman has shown the ability to use his height to intercept passes, and then also possesses the speed to take those picks to the house. For his career, Tillman has returned three interceptions for touchdowns. He's also among the best in the league at forcing fumbles after the catch. Bowman's first full season as a starter went extremely well. He finished with six INTs and 10 passes defended. Jennings was solid as a role player over the last four seasons for the Colts and he should continue his complementary status with the Bears.

Weaknesses
Bears fans have to be worried about the performance of Tillman over the course of last season. As he nears 30 years old, Tillman must prove he still has the capabilities of his youth. With the exception of an injury-shortened 2004, 2009 saw the Bears' top cornerback post the lowest tackle and interceptions totals of his career. Without a viable backup option, Chicago must be running at full steam if they are going to take advantage of the added quarterback pressure provided by Julius Peppers.


CB Charles Tillman
Getty Images: Jonathan Daniel

Potential
Bowman is well on his way to being a premier corner in the NFL. Conquering the ever-present injury bug is the only obstacle between Bowman and repeat Pro Bowls. The Bears will need to replace Tillman within the next two years, and whether Joshua Moore will be up to the task is impossible to determine at this point. Jennings and Graham are both role players with a limited ceiling. Graham has slightly more potential than Jennings, but he will have to build on his 2008 form – 2009 was largely a waste for him – in order to break out. This season, he has the inside track on the important nickel back role. D.J. Moore accomplished nothing as a rookie.

Final Word
The Bears' defensive backfield has a star in the making, a quality veteran, two solid role players and a still-unproven rookie amongst its ranks. If Bowman and Tillman can remain healthy throughout the season, defenses will struggle to pass against what is a slightly revamped defense. But if an injury occurs, especially to Bowman, the Windy City's finest will have some problems filling in the gaps.

Rank: 8th

The Bears rank eighth overall at the cornerback position. Directly in front of them are the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 7, while the Arizona Cardinals are directly behind them at No. 9. Darrelle Revis and the New York Jets rank No. 1 overall. As for the rest of the NFC North, the Green Bay Packers rank fourth, the Minnesota Vikings are 13th and the Detroit Lions come in at 27th.


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Questions or Comments? Contact Tyson Qualls via Twitter @tysonqsports or send emails to tysonqsports@gmail.com.


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