These days NFL teams play nickle defense more than they do their base package, making the 3rd corner an important cog in their sub packages. Having a nickleback that can match up with shifty slot receiver is a must, but he should also be physical enough so that he doesn't shy away from contact.
Sports Illustrated recently ranked the NFL's Best Slot Defenders and to my surprise they had Chicago's Bryce Callahan on the list.
Here's how they saw the top ten.
- Chris Harris, Denver Broncos
- Patrick Robinson, Indianapolis Colts
- Kareem Jackson, Houston Texans
- Brandon Boykin, free agent
- Patrick Chung, New England Patriots
- Tyrann Mathieu, Arizona Cardinals
- Bryce Callahan, Chicago Bears
- TJ Carrie, Oakland Raiders
- Malcolm Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles
- Captain Munnerlyn, Minnesota Vikings
Callahan was an undrafted free agent from Rice last offseason and I never got the feeling like the game was too big for him. He played in 9 games, picking up 68 snaps as a special teamer and 321 on defense. He played more nickle last year than any other Bear.
Here's what SI had to say about Callahan.
Bryce Callahan, Bears. At 5' 9" and 183 pounds, Callahan was undrafted in 2015, and had to ride the Bears' practice squad before he finally got a shot. When he did, he proved to be an integral part of Vic Fangio's defense with 18 receptions allowed on 31 slot targets. Had he played the entire season as opposed to making the field in fits and starts, there's no telling what he might have done. Callahan showed last year that is a very patient player who lets the plays come to him (which is unusual for a rookie). His lateral agility in short areas allows him to break off coverage and help when the play goes away from him. This is a player whose best is ahead of him.
If Callahan can take a jump in play and lock down the slot corner for the Bears, that could prove to be huge for Vic Fangio's D.
What are you guys expecting from him this season?