The Chicago Bears’ 2022 draft class had several big winners coming out of mandatory minicamps. Top pick Kyler Gordon had some excellent practices before a mysterious injury sidelined him. Fifth round picks Braxton Jones and Dominique Robinson flashed huge potential in drills, enough to earn them extended looks with the starting units. Velus Jones Jr. is giving defenders fits with his speed. Yet one player has stood out above them all. That is Jaquan Brisker.
The Penn State safety was the 48th overall pick for the Bears last April. Many experts at the time felt the team had gotten a genuine steal, somebody with 1st round talent. The young man himself said the same thing during his actual draft phone call. It feels like he has justified that statement in every practice since. No matter the day, reports have leaked out from Halas Hall of Brisker making at least one notable play, whether it’s a forced fumble, an interception, or an excellent read to break up a completion.
Often the best way to evaluate a player is by hearing how his coaches talk about him.
That is where Matt Eberflus comes in. The Bears head coach has mentioned Brisker multiple times already since practices began in May. He always offered nothing but praise for the rookie safety. Yet it feels like his latest comments at the end of minicamps were the most significant yet. When coaches talk amongst each other about how good a player looks, that is usually a sign the team did something right.
“He’s been really good, really good. In fact, I was just talking to [defensive coordinator] Alan Williams about him on the field, and we’re just so thrilled with his talentyou know, with his mental makeup and just the person he is and where he is in his development so far up until this point.
“He’s picking up the defense. He’s picking up the defense, he’s communicating with others. He’s right on pace there, so we’re excited for him.”
Eberflus has worked with some good safeties in his NFL career. He saw the arrival of TJ Ward in Cleveland and then Byron Jones in Dallas. The combination of Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis in Indianapolis was also good. As for defensive coordinator Alan Williams, he developed guys like Bob Sanders and Harrison Smith. So yeah. When those two are buzzing about a young safety, it’s best not to ignore it.
Jaquan Brisker seems to have the starting job locked down already.
It would be one thing if he were a 1st round pick. That would almost be expected of him. Yet as a later 2nd round pick, people should not dismiss how impressive this development is. That is especially true since he faced pretty stiff competition for the job. Longtime Bears backup DeAndre Houston-Carson has made his fair share of plays in practice too. There is also veteran Dane Cruikshank in the mix. Still, Brisker’s ascent seems to have rendered both of them afterthoughts.
The best part is he’s in a defense that seems to treasure safety play more than others. Eberflus knows this, which is why the team was quick to snag Jaquan Brisker in the first place. Having a player with his versatility is incredibly valuable in this scheme. Think peak Mike Brown during the early Lovie Smith years. That is the potential this kid has if everything comes together as hoped.
He has a good mentor to help guide him.
Eddie Jackson has his critics these days. They have good reasons. That said, the 29-year-old has played elite-level football at the safety position in this league. He understands what it takes to reach that point. The advice he can offer somebody like Brisker is incalculable.
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