Former Titans head coach Mike Mularkey holds high praise for Bears safety Kevin Byard

Former Titans head coach Mike Mularkey holds high praise for Bears safety Kevin Byard originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Ryan Poles worked quickly this offseason to replace safety Eddie Jackson, who the team released in February. In his place, the Bears signed Kevin Byard to a two-year deal worth $15 million.

It's a tough sight to see Jackson, who's been with the Bears since 2017 and authored an All-Pro season in 2019, get cut from the team. But Byard poses to be an upgrade for the Bears defense.

And the coach who drafted him to the Tennessee Titans in 2016 --- Mike Mularkey --- held extremely high praise for Byard in a recent interview with 670 The Score.

"The Bears are better already. I don't care about your quarterback situation," Mularkey said on the show. "You have a quarterback on defense that is outstanding. When they're All-Pro, that's the real deal. He is phenomenal at being a leader, first, but he's a really good football player. He did not go to the combine in 2016. When we worked him out we said 'We are drafting him some way, somehow.' We ended up, very fortunately, able to pick him in the third round. And he started every game throughout his whole career."

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Per Pro Football Focus, Byard earned a coverage grade of 70.3 and missed just 4.7% of his tackles. Last season, Jackson earned a coverage grade of 60.0 and missed 15.6% of his tackles. Byrad's also played in every game possible per season, starting in 121 of 130 career games. Jackson's proven to be on the injury list more often than desired.

Byard being on the wrong side of 30 years old could scare some, however, seeing as the Bears aren't quite ready to contend at an elite level and might not mesh peaking windows. But his signing signals that Poles believes the Bears are getting close to becoming a threat in the NFC.

And, according to his first head coach, the Bears got a good one in Byard.

"You got better. I don't know what's going to happen quarterback-wise. But your defense just got better," Mularkey said.

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