It wasn't too long ago when I made the case for the Chicago Bears to draft Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward. The athleticism, ball skills and upside Ward brings are just too hard to ignore, no matter what school he went to. Keeping with the theme, I think Utah cornerback Keith McGill is another enticing player for the Bears to target.
McGill started his collegiate career as a free safety at Cerritos College in California. After two years at the junior college, McGill transferred to Utah. A significant shoulder injury forced McGill to play in only five games his sophomore year, miss the entire 2012 season and led to a switch from safety to corner.
What should excite you initially about McGill is his size. He's 6'3'', 211 pounds. He ran a 4.51 40-yard dash which is reasonable for a player of his size. He does come with outstanding leaping ability and has the long arms needed to play great press coverage.
The body of work is small but impressive. McGill has played in only 40 games in his college career and started 34 of them. He had 22 starts at safety and 12 at left corner. Over the 40 games, he had 109 tackles, 21 pass deflections, 12 interceptions, two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks.
As a starting corner, McGill allowed just 12 of 71 passes targeted into his area to be completed (16.9 percent). No player reached the end zone while McGill was covering him.
Of course McGill is not without his downsides. The majority of his experience comes from junior college and he's still very raw at cornerback. The Bears might also be concerned about his durability and willingness to be physical after the devastating shoulder injury.
McGill has shown an inability to want to stop the run. This could be in large part due to the shoulder injury.
Allowing McGill to learn from a savvy veteran like Charles Tillman would be paramount. The two have similar body sizes and physical skills. Tillman would truly have a protege in McGill, and the Bears could benefit greatly from it.
He needs to ease into the NFL, gain more experience at corner and build confidence in his health and abilities.
Initially the Bears can use McGill all over the field. He can play the deep safety in a Cover 2 scheme, line up against taller receivers and provide a ton of value on special teams.
When you look at the receivers in the NFC North, the Bears need a big physical presence like McGill. Calvin Johnson, Jordy Nelson and Cordarrelle Patterson are all at least 6'2'' or taller. The Bears' other cornerback, Tim Jennings, just can not match up with those guys after Tillman retires.
Targeting McGill in the third round would be a wise choice. He would be a player the Seattle Seahawks would jump all over, but they don't have a third round selection. Allowing McGill to slide might force the Seahawks' hand to make a move and go get him. Remember, Richard Sherman was a fifth-round pick back in 2011.
McGill is very raw but talented. He needs experience, proper coaching and veteran leadership. The Bears can provide all of that for him. In return he will be a hard worker who can start opposite Jennings for years to come.
With Tillman, Jennings, Kelvin Hayden and Isaiah Frey all coming back, there isn't an immediate need for a corner. Selecting McGill would provide a building block for the future. While the 6'0" Frey and 5'8" Jennings are not imposing, Hayden, 30, and Tillman, 33, are at advanced ages.