LAKE FOREST – Is there any position group already in place with the Chicago Bears you can get excited about already?
Without hesitation I’d say, “the secondary.”
Think about it.
Eddie Jackson already has two Pro Bowls and one first-team All-Pro nod on his resume in five seasons.
No less than All-Pro receiver and Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp called Jaylon Johnson one of the two best cornerbacks he faced last year.
Kyler Gordon and Jaquan Brisker are just rookies – high second-round picks right now – but one NFL scout said of Gordon, “He’s a ridiculous tester and athlete that should have gone in the first round and comes with an elite, high-performance engine.”
Brisker’s plaudits from an NFL.com scout read, “Athletic safety whose versatility and toughness will endear him to coaches. He’s an ascending talent.”
The Bears have one of the best nickels in the league – if he can stay healthy – in Tavon Young. Thomas Graham has that wow factor about him and may be a diamond in the rough. And it’s far too soon to give up on Kindle Vildor.
While this recipe has been brewing all spring and summer, it was highlighted on Day 3 of training camp when the two rookies, Gordon and Brisker each got their first interceptions of training camp off Justin Fields.
Jackson quickly has gone from young phenom himself to the grizzled veteran leader of this group. When did that reality strike him?
“Oh, man, when they really got rid of everybody, that was the big turning point. They got rid of everybody,” Jackson said. “But now, it’s like, you turn around and you look, ‘Oh, I’m one of those guys in the room now.’”
Ask Jackson about Gordon, and his eyes light up.
“He’s just a freak athlete,” Jackson said. “If you see him, like, some of the plays he makes, it’s not even his man. He’s coming off his man, making plays on the ball. So just seeing how very instinctive he is.
“He’s smart. He’s willing to learn, he talks less, he takes everything in. When you have a guy like that, you know he’s going to be special.”
Pretty much the same way Kupp feels about Johnson, I guess. Ask Johnson how he feels about the new defense he’s learning, and he’ll tell you, “I feel confident in any coverage that we run, any progression, any way that they have us running it.
“Throughout the offseason, I would say that I got comfortable with the expectations and how [defensive coordinator Alan Williams is] going to call the defense more so.”
Johnson is quite the Gordon fan as well.
“I would just say his ball-hawking ability, the ability to find the ball, track the ball, and he’s an athlete,” Johnson said. “He’s definitely going to be able to make some plays solely off his athleticism, him being physical, him being able to find the ball.”
Gordon has been splitting his time in camp on the boundary and at nickel, a spot he apparently is embracing.
“When they told me, honestly, I had the biggest smile on my face because I love nickel and I love what I can do there, so it’s just been really fun,” he said.
And no one is having more fun than Brisker.
“I love football. I love being here. Love Chicago. Love my teammates. Love my coaches,” Brisker said. “So I’m definitely happy to be here.”
He also appears to love Jackson’s house, where he’s been going for some private tutoring and film study with the “old man.”
“Yeah, I’m not gonna lie, when I first walked in there, I’m like ‘Wow,” Brisker said. “I had to tell him, coming from where I’m coming from, we don’t see things like that. So that was very big for me.
“I know I’m in the NFL and things like that, but also I know where I came from, and we don’t see things like that.”
There is still much to learn and a lot of growing to do but you can see a bond with these kids growing already.
The talent oozes out of them, and while there is construction going on all around them, this is the group that has a chance to be special already.