Despite a smaller-than-usual stash of picks in this year’s draft, the Bears were most active on the final day, with 60% of their picks coming in the last two rounds. Ryan Pace and Co. followed up their first pick of the day -- Georgia WR Riley Ridley -- by selecting cornerback Duke Shelley out of Kansas State in the 6th round.
Shelley, who’s listed at 5’9 and 163 lbs, was a 4-year starter for the Wildcats. Over that time he racked up 165 total tackles, 31 passes defended, 8 interceptions, and 2 touchdowns. He had the highest coverage grade of any draft-eligible cornerback in the Big 12 last season, according to Pro Football Focus:
Shelley lined up exclusively on the outside while at K-State and, despite not talking with the Bears about an expected role yet, is confident that he can play anywhere he’s plugged in.
“I can play in the slot, 100%,” Shelley told reporters on Saturday afternoon. “I know it well - I know it like the back of my hand. I can play corner on the outside - I did that for 4 straight years at Kansas State, so I’m very versatile.”
Following Shelley, the Bears used the first of their two 7th round picks on running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. out of Florida Atlantic. Whyte played 37 games over three years for the Owls, running for 1358 yards -- good for 6th-most in program history -- and 11 touchdowns while averaging 5.7 yards per carry. With elite speed (4.37 40) and special teams experience, Whyte’s a clear fit in what’s expected to be an overhauled return game:
Kerrith Whyte Jr. was regarded as the more explosive member of FAU's backfield (with Devin Singletary). Averaged 26.1 yards on kickoff returns in his career, had 10 catches for 160 yards last year.— JJ Stankevitz (@JJStankevitz) April 27, 2019
He was the 2nd running back taken by the Bears this weekend, after they traded up on Friday night to take Iowa State’s David Montgomery.
With their final pick, the Bears took another cornerback in Valdosta State's Stephen Denmark. Denmark played three years for the Blazers, tallying 41 tackles and 2 interceptions. He also lined up at wide receiver for the first two years of his collegiate career, hauling in 29 receptions for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Love going through the top athletes in the https://t.co/bMDnHwH7wp bank this time of year (h/t @zjwhitman) to see if anyone pops.— Josh Norris (@JoshNorris) April 23, 2019
Here's a 6-foot-3, 220 lbs CB out of Valdosta State with an athletic profile in the 98th percentile. Stephen Denmark.https://t.co/eMVSyfSXVi
Listed at 6’3 and 212 lbs, Denmark’s raw athleticism (he ran a 4.46 at his pro day) stands out, but still is considered a developmental project.
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