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Kelvin Hayden simply did not play well as the nickelback or back-up cornerback in 2012.
The Bears could still use more depth along the defensive line, but the need at cornerback is more pressing.
ESPN.com reported that nickelback Kelvin Hayden was re-signed to a one-year deal earlier this offseason. The deal followed former nickelback D.J. Moore’s departure to the Carolina Panthers.
Moore’s mid-season benching for Hayden would suggest that Hayden is an upgrade at nickelback, but Hayden did not play any better than Moore.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Hayden finished the season with seven missed tackles to Moore’s three. Surprisingly, The Chicago Tribune even cited missed tackles as the catalyst for Moore’s demotion. While the ball-hawking Moore struggled at times last season, Hayden was even worse.
In addition to having less missed tackles, Moore allowed less yards per reception than Hayden (12.2 vs. 12.5) and allowed the same number of touchdowns (three) while adding one more interception (two to one).
Moore is gone and Hayden is not a great option. In order to get high-quality play at nickelback, the Bears need to draft a cornerback that would be an upgrade over both Moore and Hayden.
The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs suggested that “it would not be surprising for the team to address the position high in the draft.”
Best draft option: Terry Hawthorne, Illinois
Chicago’s other needs mean that the Bears can’t take a cornerback as high as they’d like. Fortunately, Terry Hawthorne has huge potential for a lower pick.
His draft stock took a hit because of Illinois’ abysmal 2012 season, but he has size (6’0”), speed (4.44 40-time) and the physical ability to hang with bigger receivers (according to NFL.com). He could develop into a solid contributor out of the fifth round.