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The sneakiest most important Bears for 2018: No. 4 - Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan

Unsung heroes will help make or break the Bears’ 2018 season. Cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan will be crucial to the success of the defense.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions
Prince and Bryce
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

As we continue with the unlikeliest (sneaky) most important Bears for the 2018 season, we move on to cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan. If you missed number 5 on kicker Cody Parkey, you can find that here.

We all know that the NFL has become a passing league. I would contend that pass rushers are the most important players on a defense, but in order for them to do their job and reap the benefits, the secondary must work in concert behind them.

I don’t want to diminish the importance of the safety position, especially free safety, but I think most people will agree that without at least competent cornerbacks on the field, a safety becomes exponentially less important. A secondary is much like the offensive line: weak links will be exposed and the edges have the potential to have more catastrophic results than the interior.

Kyle Fuller got paid this off-season, as he should have, but it’s the other 2 projected starters at cornerback — a nickel back should be looked at as a starter in today’s NFL — that will be the key to success. Fuller is a really good cornerback and I expect him to have a very good season. Amukamara and Callahan on the other hand, are less of a sure thing but equally as important.

If you listened to some of the whispers, Amukamara wasn’t general manager Ryan Pace’s first choice to be the boundary corner opposite of Fuller. Callahan was offered an “original round tender” as a restricted free agent — much like Cameron Meredith — which begs the question of; does the team truly value him? Talent isn’t the question for either of these players, availability has been the issue. When they are healthy and on the field, both are league-average or better players.

Amukamara is solid in press-man coverage, which is extremely important given that Fuller struggles playing that technique. While Amukamara isn’t an elite athlete for the position, he does fairly well at mirroring his assignments down field. What he lacks in top-end athleticism, he makes up for in veteran guile. Additionally, he is an above-average tackler for the position. The major flaw in his game is the lack of interceptions, which is something that is inherent in his game at this point.

Callahan is equally as availability challenged as Amukamara is. If he could stay on the field, I think that Callahan would be considered one of the premier nickel backs in the league. When he is available, Callahan is a sticky defender, makes plays on the ball, is a big hitter for his size, and has a knack for blitzing from the slot. That is certainly a nice weapon to have in today’s pass-happy NFL.

With a suspect pass rush and an improved offense, the cornerbacks will have a lot of pressure on them this year. Kyle Fuller is on the verge of becoming one of the better cornerbacks in the game, but it’s his counterparts that will make or break the 2018 Bears defense.

Can Prince Amukamara and Bryce Callahan stay healthy enough for the pass defense to be one of the best? That is one of the biggest questions as we barrel ahead towards September.