Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace has a good track record when it comes to finding talent late in the NFL draft, and through the first few days of training camp, he may have done it again in 2018.
Kevin Toliver II, the undrafted free agent cornerback from LSU, has been one of the team's stars on defense after a hot start that included three interceptions in the first two practices. At 6'2 and 195 pounds, Toliver offers great size for a secondary that will be challenged by some of the NFL's top quarterbacks who call the NFC North home.
"He's a tall, rangy, lengthy corner that really almost looks like a safety," Nagy said of Toliver. "For him to be able to move around out here, it's about getting confidence. So anytime you're going to get some interceptions, you're going to build confidence."
We're a long way from Toliver securing a spot on the final roster, but if he can continue making plays on the ball in practice and the preseason, he'll go from unheralded draft prospect to a valuable piece of the Bears secondary in just a matter of months.
Toliver isn't alone among unheralded rookies making a good first impression. Sixth-round pick Kylie Fitts has been a standout performer, too, according to Nagy.
“Kylie is having a really good camp so far,” Matt Nagy told reporters Tuesday. “He plays extremely hard. “I have to sometimes remind him to make sure to stay away from the quarterback and the throwing motion and he actually came up to me and apologized for it.
"But you can’t fault a kid for trying to play hard, trying to get to the quarterback. So I told him, ‘When we get to the preseason, do it as much as you want.’ ”
Fitts has a wide-open opportunity at outside linebacker, especially with veteran Aaron Lynch being sidelined for all of camp so far with a hamstring injury. If Fitts records a few pressures or sacks in the preseason for his name to be mentioned as a possible starter early in his rookie year.
Pace and his staff will be all smiles if Toliver and Fitts can become important contributors in 2018.