LAKE FOREST – Eddie Jackson has been in Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker's shoes. The Bears' safety was once a high draft pick entering a building with all eyes on him.
Make no mistake, the expectations for Gordon and Brisker, the first draft picks of the Matt Eberflus-Ryan Poles era, couldn't be higher.
Jackson, the leader of the Bears' secondary, has imparted wisdom to the two rookies on how to meet those lofty expectations. So far, the rookies are doing precisely what they need to in Jackson's eyes.
"Just keep working," Jackson said Thursday of his message to Brisker and Gordon. "Come out and attack practice differently. Even if you see a vet slacking, you always have to go hard. Take advantage of the film, coaches, training room. Just everything with the body recovery. One thing we was taught is that availability. If you're not available, then you can't play. So just telling them that right there.
"They've been doing a great job. Especially Quan. I've been with him. We've been meeting. Sometimes he comes to my house, we sit down, we watch film. He's asking a lot of questions. All the right questions. So, they on the right track."
Those film sessions with Brisker are further evidence that Jackson has embraced his leadership role on a young Bears team. The veteran safety told Brisker to come to him if he ever needed anything, and the rookie buzzed Jackson's phone asking for a film session that day.
Jackson says Brisker is "asking the right questions" in those one-on-one film sessions, a sign the Penn State product is on track to become the difference-maker many around Halas Hall envisioned when they selected the hard-hitting safety.
"Hearing him coach himself up and the little things, it just shows you that he's going to have a lot of success in his career because he pays attention to the little things that most guys don't pay attention to," Jackson said.
While Brisker is making an impression in the film room, Gordon is opening eyes with his rare gifts.
"He's just a freak athlete man," Jackson said of Gordon. "If you see him, like, some of the plays he makes, it's not even his man. He's coming off his man, making plays on the ball. So just seeing how very instinctive he is. He's smart. He's willing to learn. He talks less, he takes everything in. When you have a guy like that, you know he's going to be special."
Darnell Mooney hasn't gone up against Gordon yet in practice, but he sees a young corner made of the stuff to be a star in the NFL.
"He's patient. He's confident," Mooney said. "And he understands that he has good feet, quick feet, and trusts his feet as well. Sometimes when you get a guy who touches a lot, he doesn't trust his feet. Kyler trusts his feet a lot."
Poles and Eberflus used their first two draft picks on players they hope will become the foundation of the next great Bears defense.
While Brisker figures to be a Day 1 starter at strong safety, Gordon's role is less defined. Not because of his performance, but because his athleticism and coverage ability allow him to play outside and in the nickel.
The Bears' initial plan was to get Gordon settled at outside corner this season. However, that plan didn't last long as the Bears are giving Gordon a lot of slot reps to start training camp. That's a move that excites the Bears rookie.
"You just get to be more like the run game, just a different job," Gordon said of playing the nickel. "I feel like me at nickel, I'm just a twitchy dude so I just like to react a bunch. I just enjoy it and be able to be in the run fit, too. Just a lot of different things I can do there and to really show all of my abilities. I enjoy nickel."
While outside expectations are high for the Bears' rookie duo, Gordon and Brisker embrace the pressure. They've discussed making the All-Rookie team and winning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Those aren't pie-in-the-sky visions for these two rookies. Gordon believes their goals are fully attainable if they play to their potential.
He's certainly not the only one at Halas Hall who feels that way.