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Jaquan Brisker
NFL

Jaquan Brisker Quickly Proving He Belongs

  • Carmen Vitali
  • August 18, 2022
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Take it from his former college coach: safety Jaquan Brisker has the potential to be ‘special.’ 

“Some guys are elite in the passing game but average against the run, or vice-versa,” Penn State Head Coach James Franklin told Heavy. “Jaquan has a chance to be special in both.”

In one sequence during the Chicago Bears’ preseason opener against the Kansas City Chiefs, Brisker showed all of that, forcing a punt seemingly on his own. In the second quarter, Brisker was credited with a tackle, a tackle for loss, and a pass breakup that forced the Chiefs to punt for the third-straight drive. And what struck me the most was not only Brisker’s athletic ability but his awareness.

You can see him read the quarterback’s eyes on nearly every play, and then his reaction time matches his recognition. That’s what allows him to seemingly anticipate plays despite the fact it was his first NFL preseason game ever.

He’s been doing it all through training camp. Brisker came out of the gate making plays on the ball. He is incredibly versatile as a safety with the ability to stay down in the box in run support or even on a safety blitz. But then in the blink of an eye, he can cover ground laterally and get to the ball at the same time the receiver is getting there—hence the above sequence. 

If you never watch anything else on Brisker, that should have told you all you needed to know.

And I’m officially here to say, ‘I told you so.’

I’m not exactly sure why Brisker fell into the middle of the second round but after making their selection of Kyler Gordon at No. 39 overall, it seemed unlikely the Bears would take yet another defensive back. And when they did (especially when a guy like Georgia wide receiver George Pickens was right there), there were more than a few eyebrows raised and perhaps even a few cries of exasperation that the Bears were getting it wrong again.

With a brand new general manager in Ryan Poles and a brand new head coach in Matt Eberflus, Chicago’s decisions were under a microscope. The most glaring needs were on offense—along the line and in giving quarterback Justin Fields more viable options to which he could throw. Nebraska’s Cam Jurgens was on the board. Central Michigan’s Luke Goedeke (and Bernhard Raimann!) were too. Surely, it would make sense to take one of them.

And yet, Poles showed two things when they turned in the card with Brisker’s name on it at No. 48. He showed that his evaluation process would lead him to take the best player available and that he was on the same page as his head coach.

Eberflus is a defensive guy, coming from being the coordinator in Indianapolis, which you know by now. As a position coach, he’s coached linebackers and defensive backs. His defenses thrive on getting to the ball and Poles knew that Eberflus would want a guy like Brisker.

That’s what made me love this pick, other than the fact Brisker had graded out well by even TDN’s own evaluations. And now we’re seeing just how good of a fit he truly is in this defense. It didn’t take long at all. 

For that matter, Gordon is settling in quite nicely, too. He’s already made the jump to the nickel spot after showing his coaches that his football IQ can keep up with the speed and physicality of the NFL game. The tandem of these two rookies could be a complete lifeline for this defense and by proxy, the team itself.

So even if Pickens pans out (which it looks like he will), and even if Jurgens and Goedeke do good things for their respective teams, Brisker was still the right choice for the Bears. All of these things can be true.

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Carmen Vitali