Friday, May 9, 2014

Scouting The 2014 NFL Draft: Chicago Bears Selection Kyle Fuller

A lot happened in the NFL Draft last night, and instead of recapping that here, check out my Twitter feed where I gave lots of thoughts on just about everything that happened last night. One thing that I wasn't able to give much of an opinion on was the Bears selection of Kyle Fuller. I think that defensive backs are the hardest position to scout from regular game tape. They aren't on the screen a whole lot, so that makes things pretty difficult. Still, I would rather watch some game film than no game film, so I checked out Fuller's game against Marshall from Draft Breakdown to get a better idea of what the Bears acquired with the 14th pick.

The first thing that is easy to see is that he is a very solid tackler for a defensive back. He closes quickly on receivers and wraps up nicely.

Marshall tries the smoke screen, but it goes for minimal gain as Fuller is quick to close the distance and doesn't give the receiver enough room to make a maneuver for a larger gain. He's not a hitter, but his form is good enough to make tackles in the open field.

I was kind of surprised he only had six career interceptions when watching tape of him as he showed an aptitude to jump out routes. He couldn't quite get in position to pull off the interception when doing it, but he showed the skills necessary to make quarterbacks a bit hesitant when throwing the ball towards the sideline.

He also blocked a punt in this game and came close on another. He showed a very clean rout to the punter, but they sent an overloaded rush, so he wasn't really forced to beat a blocker. Still, I would rather have a guy who did block punts than a guy who didn't, although I have my doubts that those skills will translate to anything in the NFL.

He primarily played in off-man coverage, so he could backpedal and break on any route in front of him. He really believed in his recovery speed when guys tried to go deep on him, and looking at this game, his speed didn't look all that great.

On the first play, the wide receiver gets about three yards on him which is obviously not good. Still, there was a safety on that side of the field, whose job was likely to be over the top of that route, but I can't say for sure. On the next play, the ball doesn't go anywhere near him, but it looks like the receiver again gets behind him, and it doesn't appear that he has help over the top on it. I would say this is the most worrisome part of his game. He is going to get beat for big plays if he doesn't make some serious changes to his coverage strategy.

The good news is that he's a sure tackler who puts himself in positions to make big plays. The bad news is that his risk taking has some pretty extreme adverse effects. He was getting beat by Marshall receivers, so pro receivers are going to give him a lot of trouble, especially on double moves. It's one game, but he really reminds me of Prince Amukamara when he was coming out of Nebraska. All the tools are there, but that belief in his recovery speed is going to cost him. Amukamara has been about an average cornerback when healthy, and that's not the impact a team should be looking for in the first round. The good news is that this was only one game, so he very well may have done a better job of containing receivers down the field in some of his other games (there is also the chance that the safeties are as much to blame as Fuller). The other good news is that the Bears have a cornerback who takes chances for interceptions without having great recovery speed in Tim Jennings. Still, with the uncertainty the Bears have at safety, it's going to take a lot of things to go right for Fuller to have much positive impact in his rookie season.

I would have rather taken Calvin Pryor to fill the gaping hole they have at safety, but, I must remember my mantra, "In Emery We Trust."

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