Bears rookie minicamp observations: Tyrique Stevenson shines vs. Tyler Scott
What we learned as Stevenson shines on Day 1 of rookie minicamp originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
LAKE FOREST -- The Bears' rookies took the Halas Hall field for the first time in their NFL careers Friday when rookie minicamp kicked off in Lake Forest.
There isn't a lot to learn from a non-padded practice in May. First-round pick Darnell Wright showcased his athleticism in individual drills, showing he can get out quickly in the wide-zone run scheme. We did get our first look at how second-round pick Gervon Dexter and third-round pick Zacch Pickens might be deployed (more on that a little later), but the other Day 2 pick caught my eye.
Cornerback Tyrique Stevenson was billed as a tall, long, and physical press-man corner coming out of Miami. He lived up to the billing on Day 1.
Stevenson lined up against speedy fourth-round rookie Tyler Scott several times on Friday and blanketed the Cincinnati product.
Stevenson and Scott trained together during the pre-draft process, so the 22-year-old Stevenson understands how explosive Scott is on the outside.
Stevenson showed that his length and physicality could neutralize even top-flight speed.
“You just go in there with your mentality," Stevenson said about facing a guy with 4.29 speed. "At the end of the day, you’ve got to make him do some things that he’s not used to doing. If he has 4.2 speed, you have to take him off his line. You have to make him do something out of the ordinary. When you approach him, that’s all you have to think about – just doing different things to get him out of his comfortability.”
Stevenson lined up against Scott four times (by my count). If it were a boxing match, Stevenson would have won by knockout.
“Definitely did good," Stevenson said. "I know he’s quick and I know he’s fast. Me being able to get my hands on him a couple of times kind of threw him off. I’m a little bit bigger than him so I don’t he definitely don’t want me to touch him. But he definitely did good with his releases off the line. He gave me some work today and I gave him some work today.”
Non-padded practices in May mean nothing. But as far as first impressions go, there wasn't a better day than the one Tyrique Stevenson had Friday.
RELATED: Why Dexter might be more successful with Bears than he was at Florida
Here are other notes from Day 1 of rookie minicamp:
-- The Bears used two Day 2 picks on defensive tackles Gervon Dexter Sr. and Zacch Pickens. The plan is for both Pickens and Dexter to be part of a wave of defensive linemen that head coach Matt Eberflus and defensive coordinator Alan Williams can throw at opposing offenses.
Pickens and Dexter are both big, strong, long, powerful, and explosive tackles with the athleticism to penetrate and wreak havoc. Pickens showed that skill more in college than Dexter, who often looks slow off the snap.
On Friday, Pickens and Dexter rotated between the three-technique and one-technique, but Pickens appeared to get considerably more time at the three-tech spot. Pickens exploded off the ball and blew up the offense's plan on several occasions. Dexter was initially quick off the ball but slowed down as practice continued. He did bat down a pass at the line of scrimmage.
Dexter and Pickens' sheer size is impressive. The Bears were atrocious against the run in 2022. Adding big tackles who can stop the run and dent the pocket should allow the Bears to get more creative with their coverage disguises.
-- Rookie running back Roschon Johnson is known for his physical running style, something he can't show off in non-padded practices. With the pads not coming on for a while, Johnson plans to focus on the mental part of the game for now.
"I would say for one just learning the offense," Johnson said. "Graphing everything and just taking it a day at a time. Just kind of playing without thinking and trying to work up to that point so I can ultimately play fast when the pads do come on."
When asked if he likes to "punish defenders," Johnson left no doubt.
"Yes, I do."
MORE: Bears outline critical goals for Wright in offseason program
-- Fifth-round rookie cornerback Terell Smith ingratiated himself with the coaching staff on Day 1 when he intercepted a pass intended for Jacob Harris late in the day.
-- Fourth-round pick Tyler Scott started his day returning punts before joining the offense for 7-on-7 and 11-on-11.
The Junior Olympian knows he was brought to Chicago to be the ideal weapon for quarterback Justin Fields. Scott is a big-play receiver whose vertical ability should add an explosive dimension to the Bears' passing attack.
"Just watching over the past few years he’s been here, his playmaking ability," Scott said of Fields. "For me, they bring me in because I have a skill set they like, and I feel like I can bring to my table. A lot of people talk about my speed and my deep-threat ability. I know he likes to throw the ball pretty deep. So just be another weapon.
"At the end of the day, it’s my job to make his job easier and make him great. As one of my coaches said, put his name in the newspaper."
-- Northwestern running back Andrew Clair showed off his elusiveness with a shifty run during practice that went for 20 minicamp yards.
Click here to follow the Under Center Podcast.