The strength of the Bears defense is often considered in the front-seven, with players like Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman and Roquan Smith leading the way. But the secondary shouldn't be overlooked, and cornerback Kyle Fuller is a big reason why.
Fuller, 27, has been one of the Bears' biggest first-round hits in recent years after being selected 14th overall in the 2014 NFL Draft. He's started 78 of the 80 games he's played, including all 16 last season.
Fuller finished 2019 with a career-high 82 tackles and added three interceptions to his growing resume of picks, which now sits at 18. He began the year ranked No. 95 on the NFL Top 100 and was added to the 2019 Pro Bowl as a replacement for Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey.
Fuller is rarely mentioned when the NFL's top cornerbacks are discussed, but he's proven over the last two seasons that he truly is one of the league's best. He led the NFL in interceptions in 2018 (7) and continued his consistent play in 2019 despite the Bears falling short of expectations. That failure certainly wasn't his fault. Fuller ranked near the top of Bears defenders last season in run defense and tackling grades from Pro Football Focus, two traits that are hard to find in today's cornerbacks.
The Bears are expected to undergo changes in the secondary this offseason, with veteran cornerback Prince Amukamara a likely salary-cap casualty. As a result, more pressure will be on Fuller to continue his top-tier play as a coverage corner in 2020. He's up to the task.
Chicago is fortunate to have a player of Fuller's caliber at one of the most important positions in football. He'll continue to be a cornerstone piece of a potentially championship-caliber defense.