In the fourth installment of the six-part series entitled: Upsets, Underdogs and Dark Horses, I am going to discuss Deiondre’ Hall’s chances of successfully making the transition to free safety and unseating the incumbent, Adrian Amos, for the starting gig.
My first introduction to Hall was during the practices leading up to the 2016 Senior Bowl. The reports out of practice were positive and it felt like Hall was a perfect fit at cornerback in Vic Fangio’s defense.
Despite not being responsible for any turnovers, the cornerback-turned-safety-turned-cornerback showed well in practices and the game itself. Many thought that Hall could make the transition to the NFL game, despite not having top-end speed for the position.
We saw in the 2016 preseason that Hall could cover in the NFL. An unfortunate ankle injury kept him out of the lineup for most of the season, but that didn’t stop him from flashing some of the skills he showcased in camp and preseason.
What does this have to do with playing safety you ask? Well, the scouting report on Hall coming out of Northern Iowa was that he lacked straight-line speed but had the size and physicality to excel as a safety in the NFL. He also has experience playing free safety in college.
After starting his career at UNI at cornerback, his coaching staff moved him around quite a bit. Hall basically played all five positions in the defensive backfield and never truly was able to get comfortable at any one spot. Sound familiar?
If the Bears are serious about making this move, then they need to leave Hall at free safety. Clearly, the bigger need between cornerback and free safety is the latter of the two. There hasn’t been a legitimate free safety in Chicago since this man roamed Soldier Field:
One of the main issues that has plagued the Bears in recent years is the lack of a free safety, who can cover AND has ball skills. This is where I believe that Hall will excel, and ultimately win the starting job.
I think most of us are in agreement that the recently signed Quintin Demps and the incumbent Adrian Amos are better fits at strong safety. They would provide athleticism to a position that historically lacks it and the loser would provide excellent depth at both positions.
I would like to see those two plus Harold Jones-Quartey and Deon Bush battle it out for the strong safety spot. The Bears should keep five safeties on the roster and my guess is that Jones-Quartey is the odd man out.
At free safety, many fans are penciling in the recent fifth-rounder Eddie Jackson as the starter. I don’t see that being the case. First off, Jackson had a pretty rough injury during his senior season. But we really have no idea what his status is at this point, thanks to the Fox News or should I say, the lack thereof.
Secondly, after watching tape on Jackson, I see ball skills but little in the way of instincts or physicality. Some have called him a “poor man’s Malik Hooker.” I actually agree with this statement and for those of you who recall, I was not high on Hooker in the least.
But in the fifth-round, I am willing to take a chance on a player who needs time to develop. I think the Bears are going to do just that and put Jackson on PUP list to basically “red shirt” his rookie season. This would allow them to take another look at DeAndre Houston-Carson, who excelled on special teams in college and showed a tremendous knack for takeaways.
Circling back to Hall, I can see a pretty clear path to the field and a starting spot, if he can take care of business on the field. With a year of knowledge in the defense and an off-season in an NFL weight/conditioning program, Hall should have more than a puncher’s chance at winning the starting free safety gig.
I am not a betting man, and maybe this is why I’m not, but if I was going to lay my chips on the table, I would put them on Hall. He is simply too good of a player to not start in a defensive backfield that many consider to be a bottom-five in the NFL.
What do you think, can Deiondre’ Hall unseat the former fifth-round pick and finally give the Bears the coverage free safety that they have been lacking?
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