clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
NFL: Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn’t my intention to make this latest Windy City Gridiron Chicago Bears round table all about the defense, but with so much of the training camp attention being heaped on the offense, it does feel good to get some defensive discussion going here at WCG.

If you missed the first three parts of this series, you can check here (CB), here (SS), and here (ILB), and today’s topic is the nickelback spot.

Will second year pro Duke Shelley or rookie Kindle Vildor push 31-year old Buster Skrine at nickelback?

I’ll give my take after checking in with my WCG teammates.

EDITOR: These answers were given before cornerback Artie Burns was lost to the season with a torn ACL.

Bill Zimmerman: The short answer here is “No.” Skrine will be the primary nickel on the Bears in 2020. As for who will be behind Skrine, I think that question is interesting. I think the fact that Vildor is a rookie and the Bears just invested a 5th round pick in him, makes him a virtual lock to make the roster. Could there be room for Shelley as well?

I understand Shelley is only a second-year player, and despite all the great things we heard about him in OTAs last year, he couldn’t get on the field, this despite there being opportunities for him. Amukamara did not have a good season and if Shelley was truly pushing for time in practice, they could have bumped Skrine outside and given Shelley opportunities. Shelley had only 8 defensive snaps last year.

Robert Schmitz: Probably not. Skrine is a solid player that’s being paid a fairly hefty chunk of change in 2020, and that’s the common recipe for a starter in the NFL. And while I’d love to see progress from Shelley or flashes from Vildor this year, our lack of access to Bears’ camp and the fact that we’re not getting preseason games means fans may not actually see either player play defense at all in 2020. Given that Skrine held his position well last year, I doubt either youngster challenges him in a shortened camp.

Jacob Infante: For this season, I expect Skrine’s spot as the primary nickelback to be safe. He had a solid 2019 campaign all things considered, and there’s no reason to think that he should be taken out of the starting lineup yet. However, I do expect Vildor to take the starting role over this time next year. The Bears will likely need to cut costs next offseason, and Skrine could be a possible cap casualty. Given that Shelley didn’t prove much in the limited playing time he had, I don’t know if he’s in a safe situation on the active roster.

Ken Mitchell: Push? Yes. Start over? No. Skrine is likely in his last season as a Bear and Chicago needs one of these two youngsters to be next year’s starter for financial reasons. Chicago saves nearly $3M on the 2021 cap with Skrine gone, and the team really wants this one to be an easy cut next year.

Aaron Leming: I think this is a two level question, personally.

Will anyone actually push Skrine or take his job? Highly unlikely. Much like most people, I wasn’t a huge fan of the original signing last off-season, but I actually think for the better part of the year, Skrine was the team’s most consistent “starting” cornerback in 2019. Amukamara was awful, and to put it nicely, Fuller was highly inconsistent.

Who will be the primary backup for Skrine? That’s a more interesting conversation and for as much as I actually liked Shelley’s film at Kansas State, I think Vildor’s ability and mindset is very well suited for the nickel spot. Despite not being taken until the fifth-round, he’s no scrub. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in mental makeup as an aggressive play maker with some serious swagger. Maybe that’s recency bias on my part, but if I had to pick one player to be first off the bench to fill in for Skrine, Vildor is my pick.

Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter: I don’t believe either Duke Shelley or Kindle Vildor will push Buster Skrine anytime soon. If anything, both of the young DBs are likely destined as Dime specialists. Given how Buster Skrine has received so much flack from his days with the New York Jets, he turned out to be a pleasant surprise in 2019 when an actual front seven was present. I think Kevin Toliver or possibly Deon Bush would be better bets to steal snaps at Nickel over either Shelley or Vildor.

Robert Zeglinski: I get the impression Chuck Pagano and his defensive staff love Buster Skrine. Barring an injury, I don’t expect a well-performing veteran to be eclipsed by a rookie or second-year player. If anything, in a best-case scenario, the Bears have more reliable nickel depth than they’ve enjoyed in years. (It should only be a matter of time, however, before a badass name like Kindle Vildor enters the lineup.)

WhiskeyRanger: Probably not. Certainly not early on anyway. Skrine is good at the position, not healthy Bryce Callahan good, but he performed well last year... so I don’t see either of the young bucks knocking the vet off quite yet.

Jack Salo: No, Shelley would have seen more playing time in 2019 if he had earned it, and without a preseason to see how Vildor performs under the lights, there’s no reason to believe Skrine’s position is in jeopardy. Besides, Skrine’s 2019 tape speaks for itself.

Sam Householder: That’s Doubtful. Shelley is the more compelling player of the two that’s listed to possibly push the veteran Skrine, but for all the complaints when he was signed last offseason, he was fine last year. He was barely edged out by Amukamara in terms of snaps last year and had just two penalties called on him, only one of which was accepted.

Lester A. Wiltfong Jr.: Initially yes. Skrine will open up as the primary nickelback, but I could see the rookie Vildor getting some reps as the season wears on. I liked his college tape better than Shelley’s, and Vildor is bigger and has more upside.


Will second year pro Duke Shelley or rookie Kindle Vildor push 31-year old Buster Skrine at nickelback?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    (143 votes)
  • 5%
    Yes, Shelly will
    (11 votes)
  • 25%
    Yes, Vildor will
    (52 votes)
206 votes total Vote Now