Chicago Bears cornerback Kyle Fuller had a breakout season in 2017. It was a prove-it year for the former first-round pick, and he delivered in a big way. He parlayed his career-best season into a four-year, $56 million deal and is now considered one of the NFL's top corners.
He's not the only high-end performer in Chicago's secondary, however. Safeties Adrian Amos and Eddie Jackson arrived as one of the league's top young safety tandems, and veteran Prince Amukamara did enough opposite Fuller to receive a multi-year deal this offseason.
Entering 2018, the Bears may have one of the most overlooked secondaries in the NFL. In fact, that's exactly what The Ringer's Danny Kelly declared in a recent story about the NFL's most unheralded position groups.
"Most of the hype around the Bears’ eventful offseason has focused on the team’s new head coach, Matt Nagy, its offensive skill-position reboot (headlined by the signing of Allen Robinson), and the potential growth of second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky," Kelly wrote. "But don’t lose sight of what the team did to keep its burgeoning secondary intact."
The biggest challenge facing the Bears' defensive backs is the fact they'll be challenged by three top-tier quarterbacks in the NFC North. Aaron Rodgers is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer while Kirk Cousins and Matthew Stafford are perennial Pro Bowlers. Fuller, Amukamara and the rest of the starters will need a big assist from Leonard Floyd and the pass rush.
The Bears are going to need to get more from their pass rush next year, and the team’s defensive backs will simply have to make more plays on the ball after intercepting just eight passes all of last year (tied for 29th). But Chicago’s unheralded secondary unit looks poised for more recognition in 2018.
Fuller proved last season that he's a true lockdown defender. He recorded two interceptions and a career-high 17 passes defended. He set a new career-best in tackles, too, with 66. His 84.3 grade from Pro Football Focus ranked 21st among cornerbacks and was yet another career watermark.
Assuming Fuller stays healthy and has another top-tier season, and the young safeties develop as expected, the Bears' secondary has as good of a chance as any to be considered one of the elite position units in the NFL by season's end.