In this ongoing series I'll take an in-depth look at each position on the Bears with an eye towards 2011. Thanks to Pro Football Focus, I'll be able to give a different perspective on the players by showcasing their grading system.
After starting my look at the defensive side of the ball with safety, I'll continue my way through the defensive backs and focus on the corners this time out. Adding some quality to the CB position is critical in my opinion for 2011.
Charles Tillman - signed through 2013 - I've always been a Charles Tillman fan. I've always thought the positives he brings to the team far outweighs his weaknesses. He may not be a Pro Bowl corner, but he is a solid football player that will be lining up at corner again in 2011.
Pro Football Focus had Tillman as the 21st rated corner in the league with a +6.1 grade. Very respectable for a #2 corner. The weakest grade of his game was his pass coverage, however that still garnered a neutral +.05. Quarterbacks targeting Tillman's area only threw for a QB rating of 73.7, good for 18th best.
Tim Jennings - signed through 2011 - Jennings was a pleasant surprise in 2010. It's unfortunate that the lasting image of his season is his coverage getting picked apart by Aaron Rodgers in the 1st quarter on the NFC Title game. The Bears were playing a single high safety and the Packers were just running a double skinny post by the outside receivers. It's a tough cover for any corner. I think Jennings will definitely be back next season, but I think him being the 3rd corner is best for the Bears. He's just not big enough to consistently match up with #1 wide outs.
However PFF did have Jennings rated as the 12th best corner with a +9.2, so his overall play was pretty good. QBs only completed 50.7% of passes against him (good for 14th best) and had a 74.1 QB rating against his coverage (21st best).
D.J. Moore - signed through 2012 - The nickle back position had a big question mark beside it last off season, but Moore took charge of the position had had an outstanding year. After rarely seeing the field as a rookie, Bears fans had no idea he would be the kind of player he showed in 2010.
PFF had him tied with Darrelle Revis for the 18th best CB at +6.9. His coverage skills needs work (-2.2), but his grade against the run, +5.7, had him tied for 6th best among corners. I think he will continue to grow into the nickle role, and I look forward to a good season in 2011.
Zackary Bowman - signed through 2011 - How does a guy the Bears thought so much of that they proclaimed him their number one corner, end up on the bench after a missed tackle, then struggle to even see the field all year? Bowman showed flashes of his potential, but he hasn't done it consistently. PFF had him with a -4.4 grade in his 233 defensive plays. I think him being on the 2011 roster is 50/50.
Corey Graham - free agent - I touched on his special teams play here, and Kev took a specific look at him here. Can the Bears justify paying a special teams standout big enough money to keep him in Chicago, even though they only have him 4th or 5th of the CB depth chart? I hope so, but I don't think so. I think someone will offer him an opportunity to play more defense, and even if the contract offers are close to equal, I think his desire to play D will lead to him leaving.
Joshua Moore - signed through 2013 - If Moore didn't live in the weight room last year then he just dosen't care about being a professional athlete. After knocking out an embarrassingly low number of reps in the bench press at the combine last year, he spent the majority of his rookie season inactive. He'll have a shot at making the roster again, but he's no guarantee.
Kevin Gerard - signed a reserve/future contract - After finishing the season on the Bears practice squad the Bears saw enough of Gerard to want him around via his reserve/future deal. He'll compete for an end of the bench or practice squad role in 2011.
2011 OUTLOOK - In my opinion the Bears need to add a top flight corner. With needs on the offensive and defensive lines and wide receiver, I'm not sure drafting a CB in the 2nd or 3rd rounds will happen. I think the market for Nnamdi Asomugha will be too pricey for Chicago, with at least a dozen teams set to make a play for him. Antonio Cromartie may be a better option, something you can read about here. I wouldn't be surprised to see a CB drafted at some point.
If you haven't already, check out fellow WCG writer Timothy Hockemeyer's take on the all the Bears defensive backs in his outstanding Musical Chairs series.