In a press conference last week, general manager Phil Emery made it clear to the media that the team was interested in finding cornerbacks with the ability to play safety.
“We’ve looked at every corner that has length as a possible safety,” he said.
Emery noted that the transition could be hard, but the Bears like players with versatility:
We’ve looked at [long cornerbacks] as a scouting staff and I reassigned them again to go look at that equation. I asked our coaches to do that, and I continue to give them lists for players to look at their position versatility. The problem is, in fact, what you talked about: you have to project. Again, to take a college corner and make a safety out of him, that’s a big jump. You have to feel the player has the intelligence to do it; more importantly that he has the instincts to do it.
If the Bears are looking for a player with the versatility to play both cornerback and safety, Virginia Tech's Antone Exum could be a steal in the sixth round.
Due to his recovery from an ankle injury and an ACL tear, Exum was limited to just two games in 2013. Some teams may be scared off by his slow recovery time and he may drop down draft boards.
When on the field, he proved himself to be one of the most physical cornerbacks in all of college football, using his great size (6’1", 224 lbs) and strength to overwhelm his opponents.
Just as Matt Miller alluded to in his player comparison video above, Exum does play heavy-footed at times and might not have the elusive speed to catch up to plays behind him, but he does possess fluidity in his hips and has the ability to drop back in coverage.
Exum may slide down in this draft because of the questions surrounding his durability, but if he is available in the sixth round, he is exactly the type of player that Emery noted he was looking for in a cornerback/safety hybrid.
He would likely need some time to develop, but would immediately add youth and depth to a position that sorely needs it.