The Chicago Bears have no idea how the NFL Draft will go two months from now. General Manager Ryan Poles and Head Coach Matt Eberflus have just arrived. The screening process is barely underway for them. There is a lot of catching up to do. Without a 1st round pick, it’s nearly impossible to tell what the board will look like when the Bears finally go to the clock on Day 2 of the 2nd round. That said, some players stand out as likely targets.
In the case of Eberflus, one name to circle is Cincinnati safety Bryan Cook. The Bears coach said he wanted players known for their drive, intensity, intelligence and ability to produce takeaways. Cook checks most of these boxes. He had two interceptions in 2021 and 96 tackles. His mere physical presence was hard to miss on film. He always felt like he was close to the football every time he played, a sign of his instincts and awareness. NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein looks like a huge fan.
“A skilled enforcer with the size, tenacity and instinct to put his stamp on the game in various ways. Cook plays with the confidence and consistency of a safety pro and loves to run and punch. His blend of footballing intelligence, athleticism and physicality makes him an ideal candidate for game-focused defenses looking for all-around chameleons.
Zierlein’s comparison to Cook is most revealing.
He spots Julian Blackmon watching the young security. In case people didn’t know, Blackmon was a star rookie for the Indianapolis Colts in 2020, racking up 42 tackles, one forced fumble and two interceptions. It was a serious loss for their defense when the Colts lost it after just six games to an Achilles injury last year. This kind of tone is hard to replace.
Well, I can tell you for an absolute fact that I watch Bryan Cook after that. Absolutely loads and levels your traction equipment. pic.twitter.com/7Oe56yC4dL
— Matt Alkire (@mattalkire) February 11, 2022
FS Bryan Cook is a fun study… pic.twitter.com/QwiO5zgDls
— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) November 4, 2021
It’s something the Bears have been missing for years. Eddie Jackson is not someone who can do that. Adrian Amos was the closest they had. Not since Mike Brown in the mid-2000s have they had a physical safety leader that defenses are held accountable for. Things were always different when Brown was on the court. Even Brian Urlacher said so. No doubt Eberflus would love to have his own Brown. This is what Cook can be.
Matt Eberflus may need luck to get it
It’s important to remember that he doesn’t have the final say on roster decisions. That’s up to the Poles and the new chief executive hasn’t listed security as one of the biggest needs he has to address in the coming weeks. Offensive line, defensive line, wide receiver and cornerback to get the most attention. The Poles are unlikely to spend the Bears’ first pick in the draft on a safety. Especially when Justin Fields needs so much help.
However, there is room for hope. Remember, Blackmon was drafted in the 3rd round by the Colts in 2020. If that comparison to Cook holds up, then it’s possible he could end up in the same bracket. This would allow the Bears to get an offensive assist in the 2nd round and then get Matt Eberflus a player he likes.
As always, it depends on how the dash falls.
Safety usually doesn’t have top priority among teams at this time of year. These are reserves for cornerbacks and pass rushers. Another thing that can work in favor of the Bears. Just be sure to keep Cook’s name circled in April. He’s someone with the exact traits that this new regime covets.
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