Chicago Bears: 4 Possible Mid-Round Cornerback Prospects

Matt Eurich@@MattEurichAnalyst IApril 20, 2012

Chicago Bears: 4 Possible Mid-Round Cornerback Prospects

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    Despite re-signing veteran Tim Jennings and also signing veterans Kelvin Hayden and Jonathan Wilhite, the Bears may still be in the market for a young cornerback in this year's NFL draft.

    The one given at the position is Charles Tillman. 

    Since Tillman's arrival in Chicago in 2003, he has become a staple in Lovie Smith's takeaway-oriented defense. Despite solid play from Jennings and nickelback D.J. Moore, the organization still feels cornerback is an area in which they will need to seek improvement.

    Although they will probably not be looking for a cornerback in the first two rounds, this year's draft is full of solid cornerbacks who will be available in the middle rounds.

    Here is my list of four mid-round cornerback prospects the Bears may take a look at in next week's draft.

Shaun Prater, Iowa

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    A 2011 All Big Ten First Team selection, Shaun Prater is one of many talented cornerbacks in this years draft.

    Standing at 5'10" and weighing 190 pounds, Prater is slightly below average in size for a typical NFL corner.

    Prater's main strength is his zone-coverage skills and can be physical at the line of scrimmage. Not the fastest player on the field, but he has good enough speed to keep up with most top-line runners.

    Known as an aggressive player, Prater tackles well, but often his over aggressiveness leads to missteps in run defense. He would fit in well with the Bears' Cover 2 defense, but does struggle when asked to play man to man.

    Prater would likely be available for the Bears in the fourth round.

Dwight Bentley, Louisiana-Lafayette

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    Much like former Ragin' Cajun and current Bear Charles Tillman, Dwight Bentley enters the NFL draft as a bit of an unknown.

    Little to none was really known about Bentley until he was a late sub for an injured player in this year's Senior Bowl. Standing at 5'11'' and weighing 182 pounds, Bentley has the height, but his thin and lanky frame could be a detriment to his game at the next level.

    Despite the issues with his size and frame, Bentley is known as a very aggressive cornerback who is smooth in the hips and has the ability to make quick turns on the football. 

    Bentley has played mostly zone-coverage in his career but was also effective in man, and like Shaun Prater, could see himself as being a perfect fit in the Bears' Cover 2 defense.

    Bentley could be available for the Bears come the third round, but because of his rising draft stock, teams may overdraft him as high as the second round.

Casey Hayward, Vanderbilt

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    Even though former Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo had an affinity for Vanderbilt players, they did not always pan out as Chicago Bears

    Jay Cutler, Chris Williams, Earl Bennett and D.J. Moore (all former Commodore's) remain on the team, but Williams has been anything but stellar since his arrival in Chicago.

    The Commodores' Casey Hayward could be yet another Vandy product to make his way on to the Bears this season and could help add depth to the cornerback position.

    A good athlete who shows good footwork and great football I.Q., Hayward's biggest weakness is in his size.

    Despite standing 5'11" and weighing 192 pounds, Hayward seems a bit too lean and slender for the position and will need to bulk up slightly to help become a more physical player. 

    The greatest assets of Hayward's game are his solid hands and ball hawking ability, having intercepted 15 passes in three seasons.

    Likely a late second round/early third round selection, the Bears could wait to see if he falls in their lap in the third round, or if they feel he can best fit their scheme, could possibly trade up to grab him.

Brandon Boykin, Georgia

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    Despite suffering an injury in the Senior Bowl—which ultimately led to him not being able to participate in the NFL Combine—Georgia cornerback Brandon Boykin still looks to be one of the top mid-level cornerbacks in the draft.

    Boykin is very fast in his backpedal and rarely lets his size (5'9" 182 pounds) stand in the way of being an aggressive player on the field. Beyond Boykin's natural instincts and good zone-coverage skills, he excels most in the return game.

    The Bears have stated earlier this year they may look to take Devin Hester off of kick returns since acquiring both Eric Weems and Devin Thomas.

    Despite the successes both Weems and Thomas have had in the past, bringing in a player like Boykin, who could be both a kick and punt returner as well having him learn the ropes as cornerback, could be beneficial for the Bears.

    Because of Boykin's injury, it may drop his draft stock a bit, but could be a viable option for the Bears in the third or fourth round.