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NFL Draft

Who’s Poised To Join Jaylon Johnson As A Starting CB For Bears

  • The Draft Network
  • August 7, 2021
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By Michael Fitzpatrick

The quarterbacks will draw most of the attention at Chicago Bears training camp, but that isn’t the only position group where guys are jockeying for position. On the defensive side, the battle at cornerback is crucial for the success of this Bears team. With Kyle Fuller gone, someone has to step up and provide a reliable option opposite Jaylon Johnson and in the slot for the defense to be successful.

Thomas Graham Jr.

Chicago selected Graham in the sixth round out of the University of Oregon. Over three years in Eugene, Graham made 183 tackles and nabbed four interceptions to go along with 32 pass breakups. Standing at 5-foot-10, he can only really be a slot corner, but he has made his presence felt early in camp per reports and has a real shot to win that job. His physicality and aggressiveness fit well in Sean Desai’s defense. His main competitors are Duke Shelley and Kindle Vildor, but if Vildor wins a job on the outside, Graham’s odds of starting only improve.

Duke Shelley

The 5-foot-8 Shelley took over for the Bears in the slot last season for the last five games after Buster Skrine went down with a concussion. In the end, Shelley made 16 tackles and broke up one pass in 2020. Shelley has an experience edge over Graham and Vildor, but the two younger players are more talented, at least on paper. Shelley really got picked on at times last year and allowed 80.6% of passes thrown in his direction to be completed, the worst of any Bear on this list. If either Graham or Vildor are ready, then Shelley could be without a job.

Desmond Trufant

Trufant finds himself in a similar boat to Shelley. He holds an experience advantage over his competition, but ability is a different story. Even putting ability aside, Trufant has missed 17 games in the last two seasons. That’s not encouraging at all for someone the Bears may count on to be a huge part of their defense in 2021. In 2020 with the Detroit Lions, Trufant allowed 68% of passes targeting him to be completed and allowed a 111.3 passer rating. Those numbers actually stack up pretty well to his competition on the Bears, but they still aren’t good. That, paired with the injury history and steady decline Trufant has experienced as he gets older, makes him a worrisome option for the Bears.

Kindle Vildor

The second-year corner from Georgia Southern has been an offseason darling in the eyes of the Bears’ coaches. The coaching staff has been singing Vildor’s praises every chance they’ve gotten. He’s supposedly made huge strides this offseason, and that’s good because his numbers last year were very poor. He allowed a 70.6% completion percentage against and a 131.2 passer rating against. Vildor’s versatility gives him a good chance to play, as well. He’s competing with Trufant for the CB2 job on the outside, but even if the veteran Trufant ends up winning that, Vildor could slide inside and win the slot job.

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