Pro football | Bears draft

Bears turn the 'corner' on defense

2014-05-08T22:00:00Z 2014-05-12T14:45:06Z Bears turn the 'corner' on defenseAl Hamnik, (219) 933-4154
May 08, 2014 10:00 pm  • 

LAKE FOREST | Kyle Fuller, your table is ready.

In dire need of a safety, linebacker and patching up the defensive line, the Bears made the Virginia Tech cornerback their 14th overall pick in Round 1 of Thursday night's NFL draft.

General manager Phil Emery had said recently he would choose a cornerback and possibly move him to safety if he had the size and length.

Fuller is 6-foot, 190 pounds and has never played safety.

"I can play corner, nickel, slot, possibly safety. I'm a versatile player, so I'm comfortable," Fuller said in his conference call. "They'll put me in the best position to help the team.

"I haven't actually played safety but can line up with my skill set, come up and tackle, and make big plays."

The panel of draft experts on NFL Network called Fuller a great pick for a 30th-ranked Bears' defense that allowed 30 points a game, 161.4 rushing yards, and tied Jacksonville with a league-low 31 sacks last season.

Fuller comes from good football stock.

Brother Corey is a wide receiver on the Detroit Lions. Oldest sibling Vincent was a fourth-round pick of the Titans in 2005, played safety for the Lions and then New England in 2011 before being released Kyle Fuller started 42 of 50 games at Virginia Tech, had 173 total career tackles and six interceptions.

He started eight of nine games last season while recovering from a groin injury.

"I'm 100 percent healed and they know that," he said of the Bears.

"We had a very high grade level on Kyle at corner," Emery added. "This is one tough football player with his length, skill, versatility and productivity. Of his 173 career tackles, 129 were solos and that's almost unheard of at his position.

"He's a corner. That's how we see him. That versatility of coverage is a big attraction for Kyle."

Every draft is a hold-your-breath, keep-your-fingers-crossed adventure, as Emery eluded to last week.

"We're not expecting to be handed a bunch of all-pros," Emery said. "We're expecting to be handed players that have a skill set that can be developed and that's why we work together with the scouting department that oftentimes sees things differently than a coach sees it."

The Bears have six remaining picks over the final two days to address minor needs at tight end, running back and offensive tackle.

Besides an already-explosive offense and revamped defense, the 2014 season should offer added excitement for fans.

Chicago will travel to Detroit to play the Lions on Thanksgiving Day for the first time since 2004.

They will play five games in Prime Time after going 4-0 last season on national TV.

They will travel a total of 14,808 miles.

The combined record of this season's opponents coming to Soldier Field is 57-69-2 and 68-58-2 on the road.

Perhaps the most important stat: The Bears have missed the playoffs six of the last seven years.

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