Former LSU cornerback Kevin Toliver has quickly separated himself from the crop of rookies and veterans trying to impress Matt Nagy and the Chicago Bears coaching staff at the team's rookie minicamp this weekend.
Despite an up-and-down college career, Toliver, a former five-star recruit, declared early for the 2018 NFL Draft. He was supposed to get drafted on Day 3. Instead, his name was never called. He agreed to terms with the Bears shortly after the draft concluded.
“Even if I would’ve gone first round, I still would’ve been hungry, but going undrafted, that just made me hungrier,” Toliver said, via the Chicago Sun-Times. “They’re going to get a different beast out of me than they saw at LSU.”
Toliver, who stands 6-2 and 192 pounds, didn't live up to his recruiting hype as a college defensive back. He managed only two interceptions during his time in Baton Rouge and started just five games in 2017. His decision to turn pro was a surprise.
Still, he had favorable scouting reports from leading NFL draft analysts.
"Toliver was a top-rated recruit who was largely disappointing relative to expectations at LSU," NFL.com's Lance Zierlein wrote before the 2018 NFL draft. "However, his play showed improvement this season and he has the size and physical ability that teams are typically willing to bet on. Toliver lacks premium ball skills but his size and physicality could be a good match for a zone-heavy unit or with a potential move to safety. Toliver's value lies more in his traits than his production and teams will have to weigh his future potential against his past history -- both on and off the field."
The Bears need a player with Toliver's traits. Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara are locked in as starters, but both have had issues with injuries. Toliver has enough natural ability to challenge players like Cre'Von LeBlanc and Marcus Cooper for the first man off the bench.
While getting drafted is something of a badge of honor for players, it's not about where you start. Instead, it's about opportunity. For Toliver, he'll be given every chance to prove he can be a beast in the Bears' secondary.