Da Bears What to do with Three Nickel Corners

Da Bears: What to do with Three Nickel Cornerbacks

  • Buster Skrine
  • Chicago Bears
  • Duke Shelley
  • Kindle Vildor
  • Nickel Cornerback
  • Slot Cornerback
By Sam Stevenson June 25, 2020 0 Comment

Buster Skrine, Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley all play the same position for the Bears: nickel cornerback. What does this mean in terms of the depth chart?

The 2019 NFL Draft had the Chicago Bears addressing a lot of positional needs. The pick that was a bit surprising came in Round 5. The team selected Georgia Southern cornerback Kindle Vildor. He seems like the late round gem that general manager Ryan Pace loves so much. He’s quick, has good ball instincts, and brings power when he hits. His smaller size and ability to cover inside makes him an ideal nickel cornerback.

The problem is, the spot he’s projected to play is overbooked. In 2019, the Bears signed Buster Skrine to fill in the void at nickel. Then, they drafted Kansas State cornerback Duke Shelley in the 6th round.

It’s not an issue that the team is stocking up at the position. There’s a void at starting cornerback, and injuries are always a concern. Skrine is locked down for another two years on his contract however, and Shelley didn’t receive many chances in 2019 due to injury.

Vildor will play a role on special teams, but are the Bears to use him elsewhere? Are they grooming Vildor to take over once Skrine’s contract expires? Or is this merely competition?

Here are some scenarios the Bears may take with these three players:

Scenario #1: Shelly gets cut. Skrine starts Then Vildor is the backup.

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This one is the most likely situation. Skrine is an 8-year veteran who has missed less than ten games his whole career. He had five pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and 39 solo tackles last season. He’s a solid piece to a great Bears defense.

Vildor would be able to have a year to sit back and learn, so he could understand the defense better. He could contribute on special teams as well as get reps behind Skrine until his contract expires.

Shelley’s injuries prevented much opportunity and production. It’s not likely the team keeps him on the active roster, but he has a chance to land on the practice squad. A year there may be exactly what Shelley needs to bounce back. The NFL is also implementing two “bubble” spots on the active roster, so he could land there as well.

Scenario #2: Keep all three

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Perhaps the team believes all three nickel cornerbacks have a role to play in 2020. Shelley and Vildor could bounce around at any defensive back spot to develop. Maybe Skrine plays more cornerback as there’s no guarantee Jaylon Johnson starts Week 1. Returningthird year corner Kevin Tolliver II isn’t guaranteed the job either.

This scenario would let Vildor and Shelley compete for the starting job. Guys like Tre Roberson and Sherrick McMannis could see themselves out if this was the case. Roberson is a CFL star. McMannis is one of the longest tenured players since the Pace era. The team also signed former Pittsburgh Steeler Artie Burns, so this move would likely see him gone as well.

Scenario #3: Cut Skrine. Let Vildor/Shelley compete

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This scenario has more to do with cap space. The Bears are looking at slim money in 2020. They’ll need to shed off some contracts to free up cap space. If Skrine was cut in 2020, he’d free up $3 million in net cap space. If the team traded him, it would be more like $5 million, according to Spotrac.

That’s a lot of pressure for the two young players. However, considering the other defensive backs the Bears have: Eddie Jackson, Kyle Fuller¬†and Tashaun Gipson, those guys can ease that pressure. Not to mention, the Bears have plenty of in-house options they can slot in if neither guy is ready to go. The team saves money while cementing two younger, cheaper options at the position.

In the end, the nickel cornerback spot isn’t a huge priority. The team has three talented players at the position, and in the end, the best man will be out there when the team heads to Detriot week 1.

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