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Matt Eberflus Spots One Bears Flaw

Bear Digest on FanNation 4/25/2022 Gene Chamberlain
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Matt Eberflus took a good look at his team from all angles during minicamp and there was one flaw he noted which has been pointed out repeatedly by others in the offseason.

A new coach like Matt Eberflus will not come out waving the warning flag about his team's talent shortage.

It makes no sense because it can reveal draft strategy or start problems with players already on the roster.

Eberflus came about as close as a coach can to this during Bears minicamp when talking about one particular position, but the problem he saw isn't one they can solve in the draft.

It was the team's cornerback situation.

"I like it, they're quick," he said. "I saw them in the drills yesterday. I was over there with the defense yesterday and I really liked them."

The buttering-up ended at this point.

"There's not a lot of experience there with that group right now, but there's a lot of youngness," Eberflus said. "The guys are young and they're energetic, they're quick and they're athletic, and we're evaluating guys one guy at a time, one day at a time."

This is about as close to a panic as any new coach will have. The inexperience is obvious. 

Eberflus doesn't need to worry about Jaylon Johnson, who wasn't in attendance at the voluntary veteran minicamp.

However, the Bears are still counting on two younger cornerbacks who haven't proven much in Duke Shelley at nickel and Kindle Vildor at left cornerback. Shelley was playing right cornerback in the minicamp with newly signed veteran Tavon Young in the slot. Slot figures to be a battle between those two unless one from the draft enters the fray.

Needless to say, the draft does not supply experience.

Eberflus seemed to all but say they needed to add experienced help. They did add a player as camp ended in Greg Stroman, but that doesn't really pass for experience.

Stroman did start three times in 2018 but had a foot injury and groin injury and has been on injured reserve or out of the league almost entirely since that year. He played in only five games since 2018, when he had an interception and four pass breakups with three starts and 15 games played as a rookie. He wasn't in the league last season.

If the Bears are to find experience, it's going to be in some of the remaining free agents. 

Here are the best of the lot not so old that they'd be better off becoming NFL Network in-studio analysts.

Trae Waynes, Bengals

The former Viking starter is 29 and played four games for Cincinnati last year. His coverage has been less than stellar since 2018. Hehad a 107.9 paser rating against in 2019 and 140.0 against in 2021. He gave up eight TD passes total for his last two seasons played, including three last year on 243 plays.

Kyle Fuller, Broncos

Would the Bears bring him back now at age 31 this season? It's a different regime in charge now, but this isn't Fuller the Pro Bowl player of 2017-18. He was ranked 111th out of 116 cornerbacks graded by Pro Football Focus last year. Would he even swallow his pride and come back to Chicago as a low-cost free agent pick-up or simply retire?

Kevin King, Packers

He had 30 pass breakups and seven interceptions with 42 starts in Green Bay but gave up too many big plays and the team brought in much better coverage players.

Xavier Rhodes, Colts

An Eberflus HITS system alum with 13 career interceptions and 92 pass breakups who is in his 10th year. He's 32 and would be an ideal experienced alternative in the system at left cornerback to hold it until a rookie or Thomas Graham Jr. can be ready to play it.

T.J. Carrie, Colts

Another HITS alum from the Colts who has seven career interceptions and 52 pass breakups and is 31 years old. He's not an ideal outside cornerback, though. He's been more of a coverage player in the sub packag, but has played outside at times. He's even been a safety, and that kind of versatility can't hurt. He had passer ratings against of 78.0 and 97.9 the last two years and has 54 career starts.

Vernon Hargeaves, Bengals

Signed with the Bengals to help on 72 plays last year after being waived Houston and is only 26. Injuries took their toll after a promising start to his career in Tampa.

Damon Arnette, Raiders

Actually, he's a street free agent and not a UFA. The Raiders gave up on a first-round draft pick after lessthan two seasons. The Chiefs picked him up and waived him. Would the Bears want to give a first-round guy from Ohio State another chance? He doesn't really have the kind of experience they need to help settle things down in back.

A.J. Bouye, Panthers

The 10th-year veteran hasn't started more than seven games in each of the last two years for Denver and Carolina after being a starter in Houston and Jacksonville. A veteran of 76 starts, 110 games, 14 interceptions and 75 pass breakups.

Fabian Moreau, Falcons

Former third-round pick with Washington who played one forgettable year in Atlanta. Still only 28, he had started 18 games for Washington from 2017-20. Lsat year he gave up a whopping eight TDs and had a terrible 115.1 passer rating but he had passer ratings against of 93.3 and 79.9 in two years prior to this. He ran a 4.35-second 40 coming out of the combine.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven

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