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How Bears plan to utilize top pick Gordon early in rookie season originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST – The Bears have big expectations for Kyler Gordon. The second-round pick out of Washington has the size, length, technique, ball skills, and demeanor to be a top-level NFL corner.
When the Bears drafted Gordon with the No. 39 overall pick in last week's NFL draft, many assumed the plan was to have Gordon man the nickel position in head coach Matt Eberflus' defense. However, while Gordon has the versatility to play outside and in the slot, the Bears are planning to keep it simple for their top draft pick. At least, at first.
"We're just going to let him do what he does and just kind of see how he shakes out," defensive coordinator Alan Williams told reporters Saturday at rookie minicamp. "Just give him one thing to do, and right now, that's outside. Then we'll see how much he can do, how much we can push him. But as of right now, he'll be an outside corner."
Whether Gordon plays left or right corner has yet to be determined. Eberflus told reporters Friday that he has yet to decide which side returning cornerback Jaylon Johnson will play.
The Bears drafted Gordon hoping that he and fellow second-round pick Jaquan Brisker could be foundational pieces, along with Johnson and safety Eddie Jackson, of a stout Chicago secondary.
Given the importance of the nickel back in the modern NFL, Gordon might eventually be more valuable in the slot than the outside. However, the complexity of the nickel back position likely will see Gordon stay at outside corner during his rookie season unless Williams sees fit to alter the course.
"The nickel is probably the hardest position on the football field," Williams said. "It used to be that the nickel was the twelfth guy or the thirteenth guy that you'd have. Now in today's football, when you have so much sub or 11 personnel, that guy is a starter. That guy is a critical piece of the defense, and that guy has to do a lot of things. He's got to fit like a linebacker and a safety. He's got to cover like a corner. He's got to have the mentality of a Mike linebacker.
"So, to have him go outside and inside, it's tough on a rookie. So, to stick him in one place and let him go and develop and learn and feel comfortable, right now, that's the plan. But that's the plan to be determined. I get to change it when need be if we need to."
Cornerback is one of the most difficult positions to find an instant-impact rookie in the NFL. But Gordon, who hails from an NFL defensive back factory at the University of Washington, is confident he can immediately push for a starting spot and help make the Bears better in 2022.
"Yeah, I feel pretty prepared, very prepared coming from Washington just like everything that they taught me in the way that I prepare myself game to game and person to person and just every category," Gordon said Friday. "So, I just know that my preparation transition is the same thing I'm going to carry over to the NFL, and then while adding more tools and more stuff that I can learn.
"So, I feel pretty good about going in there and shaking things up for sure."
No matter where he plays, Gordon making an impact early on in his NFL career is undoubtedly part of the plan for Eberflus and the Bears.
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