Bears

Bears Season in Review: Kyle Fuller

Bears Season in Review: Kyle Fuller

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.

Here's what the 2020 NFL draft TV broadcast could look like

Here's what the 2020 NFL draft TV broadcast could look like

The 2020 NFL draft will take place as scheduled on April 23-25 despite the nationwide social distancing campaign enacted to combat the outbreak of COVID-19. 

The NFL canceled the three-day party in Las Vegas and the league won't hold any public events to celebrate the players or the teams, but the show will go on in a much different way.

NBC Sports' Peter King outlined how this year's draft will likely be broadcast, which will be a familiar sight for anyone who's working from home or paying attention to how television has adapted to these challenging times:

If you’ve done Zoom video conferencing, or you’ve watched recent nightly newscasts, maybe you’ve seen eight or 10 people on the laptop screen or the TV all ready to be called on by a host. Imagine the same thing on draft night. The NFL will send out about 50 portable camera kits with microphones to top prospects and college coaches, with better-than-FaceTime quality, so NFL draft coverage will be able to bring in, say, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow from the family home outside Athens, Ohio, when/if he’s the first pick of the Bengals. Then Burrow will be able to do his media availability with the Cincinnati press, and whatever other one-on-ones he chooses to do.

It'll be a stark contrast to how the NFL draft is traditionally conducted. From the days of Radio City Music Hall in New York City to the traveling roadshow it's become in recent years, the league has done a remarkable job turning its biggest offseason event into arguably the biggest event in the sport aside from the Super Bowl.

Diehard fans of the draft will enjoy the broadcast regardless of whatever form it takes. Whether it's a red-carpet event or a zoom-style meeting, the teams will still pick their players and fans will celebrate (or loathe) the selections. The casual observer may not be as impressed, however. The emotions of draft day, especially when players realize their life-long dream by walking across the stage and bearhugging Goodell, will be lost. At least, there will be less of it.

Sure, watching prospects celebrate with their families in the comfort of their own home will be fun, but the cloud of what really matters -- the coronavirus and the devastation its causing across the globe -- will be unavoidable. The setting of this year's draft will be a constant reminder of it, too.

But the show must go on (apparently). And if the NFL has proven anything over the years, it's that the league knows how to take advantage of every opportunity it has to captivate an audience. 

Maybe, just maybe, the best thing the draft has to offer fans this year is a much-needed distraction from the stress and anxiety of the real world. Don't bet against the NFL accomplishing that goal. 

Bears hold pre-draft meeting with SIU safety Jeremy Chinn

Bears hold pre-draft meeting with SIU safety Jeremy Chinn

The Bears have a need at safety alongside Eddie Jackson, and while Deon Bush was re-signed to a one-year deal to presumably replace Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in the starting lineup, GM Ryan Pace may decide the 2020 NFL draft offers a better option.

One safety who fits the profile as a physical in-the-box defender is Southern Illinois' Jeremy Chinn. The 6-foot-3, 221-pounder wowed at the NFL Combine when he ran a 4.45 40-yard dash and lept 41 inches in the vertical jump, testing scores that confirmed the elite athleticism he displays on tape.

The Bears took notice and their interest in the small-school standout is real. Chicago held a pre-draft meeting with Chinn, albeit via Facetime, in an effort to learn more about the local prospect, a source told NBC Sports Chicago.

Chinn finished 2019 with 71 tackles, 2.5 for loss,  four interceptions and three pass breakups. He was a do-it-all defender who's been comp'd as a discount version of Clemson's Isaiah Simmons.

Unlike Simmons, there's a chance Chinn will be available when the Bears are on the clock at No. 43 overall. If he is, expect Pace, who has an affinity for small-school players, to pull the trigger.