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LSU’s all-around stud in Jamal Adams is out to make history. The Bears could oblige him

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It’s been a long time since the Bears had a franchise safety. With Jamal Adams, they’d get the best of more than plenty of worlds.

NCAA Football: Southern Mississippi at Louisiana State
Jamal Adams is the “answer” type of safety Chicago hasn’t possessed for a long time.
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

When you think Chicago Bears the two positions that come to mind historically success-wise are linebacker and running back. Somehow nailing a starter and or multiple Hall of Famers at these places is never lost on this franchise.

When you think “Bears” in terms of failure at a specific position, it’s almost always quarterback, which is logical, considering how important the guy under center is to the overall success a team will enjoy. Chicago has far from an illustrious history at passer to say the least.

But in the modern era of the NFL, what area have the Bears respectively had just as little success in?

I’ll take “safety” for 500 over and over, Alex.

Just think of some of the names and somehow ever-shuffling safety cast on a milk carton since 2000 in Chicago: Mike Brown (objectively great, but injuries cut career short), Danieal Manning (solid enough), Chris Harris (relatively good in the short-term), Chris Conte (forever a scapegoat), Craig Steltz, Major Wright, Kevin Payne, Al Afalava, Brandon Hardin, Adam Archuleta, Antrel Rolle, and on and on.

There’s the famous Bears quarterback fan jersey with all of the guys that have played for Chicago that’s updated every now and then. Given historical perspective and what seems like an endless amount of names on a list, I’m seriously wondering why there isn’t such a jersey for Bears safeties.

Yes, for everything the Bears have consistently failed in acquiring and developing talent in, it feels like safety needs to or is almost always near the top of the list.

Fun fact: Given the constant roster churn, Chicago has drafted a safety in nine out of the last 10 years. The notion to so consistently fail in locking down just one position that shouldn’t be anywhere close to as difficult as getting a good quarterback - while consistently wasting draft capital across three different general managers - is so ridiculously absurd.

In that light, it’s a good thing the 2017 Draft class and it’s safeties came riding along with what no doubt now seems like a godsend for the Bears. The man at the head of said class, that can make this team forget all of it’s past embarrassing transgressions is LSU’s Jamal Adams.

There is no such thing as a “safe” draft prospect. Even the “safe” prospects, who seemingly have no red flags, and who scouts pencil in as a guaranteed starter and or cornerstone for years, can bust. It’s because no one can actually wholly project how a college player will have his game translate to the dramatically upscale professional level.

On that note, it certainly at least feels like Adams is the “safe” guy that bucks for the more positive trend. The kind of player that everyone knows will be an NFL star and will actually have his career largely play out that way. That’s said because there really isn’t anything to knock against him.

In the 21-year-old Adams, you have a clean injury history - a must for any potential franchise player selected high - incredible play versatility and instinct, experience as a three-year starter and leader of a talented college secondary, speed with an unofficial reported 4.33 40-yard dash at LSU’s Pro Day a few weeks ago, and quality sturdy size at 6-foot, 214 pounds, with long arms.

That’s a mouthful and is merely a very general description of what could possibly be underselling what Adams will offer as a future potential perennial All-Pro safety. He’s that good, that polished, that talented.

In fact, Adams is considered so NFL-ready, that some peg him as even more of an impact player, at least initially, than the consensus No. 1 overall pick in Texas A&M’s “generational” edge player in Myles Garrett.

Indeed the star shines bright on Adams as a budding cornerstone and he knows it too. He wants to earn all of the accolades possible in the NFL, individually and more importantly, for the team he plays for. Football is his life’s calling, his passion. That’s just the way he’s wired.

“I kind of played everything growing up and I kind of fell in love with the game at age 5, really. I started at age 3. He (Adams’ father, George, who was a first-round pick by the Giants in the 1990’s), just really stressed staying focused, trusting the process, and doing what I do. I love football. That’s my passion.”

Only five safeties have been drafted in the top-five of the draft in the past four decades, with the current ChiefsEric Berry in that group. None of them were selected any higher than fifth overall. It’s just traditionally not a position that’s been highly valued in the league up until this point. Adams wants to make history and break new barriers.

“There’s tons of talent in the draft, so hopefully I make history," said Adams after his blazing 40-yard sprint. "Hopefully I go top-four. ... It’s [whatever is] in God’s plan. But that’s definitely my goal."

Obviously, given that the Bears currently sit at third overall, they can greatly assist Adams in that regard. If there was ever a time to pick a player without consideration for how teams have operated in the past, it might be now. And in picking him, neither Adams nor they would be disappointed with what he’ll bring to the field.

Adams might be the most aggressive safety in this draft. He has an uncanny instinct to carry him to any play and wherever the ball is and what helped him attain 209 total tackles at LSU.

When he gets to the ball, he comes with an uncanny physical punch as a tone-setter for the rest of his defensive unit. He’s also versatile as he can play all over the field, cover big tight ends, and is every bit the field general and leader you want watching over your defense.

The only real concern with such a complete player like Adams for the Bears, is his ballhawk ability and or range to play effective coverage in the NFL. He can’t solely be an in-the-box type. He has to be able to both lockdown cover and tackle well for Chicago to warrant investing it’s most valuable draft asset in years on him. That’s what separates a transcendent safety from a merely good one.

Though, that Pro Day run probably quells any concerns that Adams doesn’t have the speed to be that kind of all-around safety. This is also a guy who had five interceptions in his last two years at school, so he certainly can be that dangerous ballhawk on the back-end. He just has to translate it to the big leagues.

For general manager Ryan Pace, it’s about weighing the pros and cons.

On the one hand, picking Adams with what is hopefully the last such high draft pick you’ll have in your regime, that can and or probably should be used instead on a more valuable quarterback or edge rusher, throws out all positional value.

You have to ask yourself: Is Adams really worth being the highest drafted safety ever over your own evaluated franchise passer or more impactful pass rusher?

On the other, you’re getting a bona fide superstar for years to come that will eliminate any sense of a need at safety as long as he’s present. Essentially coming to the rescue and finally answering a constantly ringing bell at safety. You’d ideally blaze a new trail as almost every elite NFL defense now has a superstar at the position and in copycat fashion, teams would in turn notice and finally not shy away from using high draft assets on it.

It’s a difficult call to make with Adams as he’ll probably be available when the Bears’ turn to pick comes around. A pick that in the end, will likely define Pace’s entire regime.

But all of that is of no concern to Adams. He knows the history of his position. He understands the comparisons he’ll get to Berry and other modern legends such as the deceased Sean Taylor, who were both picked in the top-five. And of course, he relishes that because in his mind, he knows he can reach their level.

It’s about blazing a trail wherever he goes. It’s about one day being immortalized and remembered forever among the greats.

“I plan on being in the Hall of Fame one day. Now that I’ve moved on from high school and college, that’s my goal: To be a Hall of Famer and put on the yellow jacket.’’

Bears position outlook: Safety

Bears’ need: Very high

Current depth chart: Adrian Amos, Quintin Demps, Harold Jones-Quartey, Deon Bush

The situation: Of all the struggles for last year’s Bears, safety was probably where they most abhorrent. The two starters for the majority of the season in Amos and Jones-Quartey allowed a 125.1 passer efficiency rating when targeted by opposing quarterbacks. Basically any time you threw in their direction, you may as well have been guaranteed a completion and or big play.

That kind of standard cannot continue. Defensive coordinator Vic Fangio needs leaders in his secondary who can make plays. Whether one of those players comes at No. 3 overall is a different story.

Best available: Jamal Adams, LSU

Some will argue that Ohio State’s Malik Hooker might become the better player in the end with his supposed higher ceiling. But right now, there’s no one better to plug and play at safety than Adams. After Adams and Hooker, if you’re looking for a safety, have your pick of the litter from Washington’s Budda Baker, Connecticut’s Obi Melifonwu, Utah’s Marcus Williams, and more. Along with tight end, this might be the best safety class in a decade.

Something to keep an eye on:

It’ll be fascinating to watch how Deiondre’ Hall and Kyle Fuller make the transition to safety from cornerback during offseason workouts. If either of the two can pan out there, the Bears might have a guy to pair with a highly drafted safety this year for quite awhile.

Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for the Rock River Times and is a staff writer for Windy City Gridiron. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.