It took until the latter rounds but the Bears finally placed a priority on selecting defensive prospects in the 2019 NFL Draft. With their last pick, the Bears have selected Valdosta State’s Stephen Denmark at No. 238 overall. A physical freak, Denmark has a lot of tantalizing tools the Bears could unlock if they’re patient with him. Then again, he is a seventh-round pick so it’s more fair to have extremely tempered expectations.
Let’s grade the Bears’ selection of Denmark at No. 238 overall.
Like you, I too wondered if Denmark’s alma mater in Valdosta State was a real school at first. Upon cursory research, it’s very real and it’s spectacular. It’s even had a few NFL players before, most notably the Falcons’ starting right tackle Ryan Schraeder. While you’d be hard-pressed to call it a football gold mine of talent, it is a nook and cranny to search through if you’re a diligent general manager such as Ryan Pace.
Denmark’s evolution as a player is interesting because he featured at receiver for three years before converting to cornerback during his senior season. Part of the reason he was converted to cornerback was because he didn’t produce much on the offensive boundary. The other part was that his physical gifts being put to use on defense couldn’t be overlooked.
The 6-foot-3, 212 pound Denmark has 33-inch arms, ran a 4.46 40-yard dash, and had a 43-inch vertical in pre-draft testing. May I remind you he is a cornerback, so he’s a wholehearted monster against almost any NFL receiver he’d line up across from. The major knock in his athletic testing is a paltry 7.40 three-cone. Most edge pass rushers and certainly the best edge pass rushers, are faster. Some offensive linemen have better three-cone results. Denmark can’t bully other receivers if they beat him off the line of scrimmage and turn him around altogether due to his lack of agility. He’d never survive.
There’s been speculation about where the Bears could find a place for Denmark. Could he be a safety convert, perhaps? I have the answer: Special teams. He’s too raw and a major project to see as anything but a third phase contributor ... if he can carve out a role there. Denmark could be able to make the Bears’ active roster on his physical tools alone. Guys of his imposing stature and build routinely find their way into the league due to their gifts. But seeing him making a tremendous impact at cornerback, at any point, is quite the optimistic proposition.
There’s a lot of work to be done on Denmark to make him a viable NFL player anywhere. He’s a small school product with little experience on the side of the ball he was drafted on, so he’ll naturally take time to ingratiate to the league. That’s time he might never receive.
You would expect nothing less out of a seventh-round pick.
How would you grade the Bears’ selection of Stephen Denmark at No. 238 overall?
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