Scouting Chicago Bears Cornerback Deiondre’ Hall

Scouting Chicago Bears Cornerback Deiondre’ Hall

The 2016 Chicago Bears roster is set (see it here) and as of this writing there are a dozen defensive backs on the 53. Come opening week, the two starting cornerbacks, Tracy Porter and Kyle Fuller, might still be battling injuries placing doubt on their availability against Houston.

Head coach John Fox and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio have used the preseason games as an opportunity to give a number of young players valuable defensive snaps to help prepare them if needed come opening weekend. One of those players has been rookie fourth-round pick Deiondre’ Hall who ended up starting against Cleveland after fellow corner Sherrick McManis (who was slated to start) got shaken up on the opening kick.

Hall has been impressing coaches since the spring’s OTA’s and minicamps to the summer’s training camp. Hall’s ascension up the Bears depth chart was only a matter of time as he fits the profile of cornerback Vic Fangio likes playing outside on the numbers. Fangio loves tall physical defensive backs who can press at the line of scrimmage altering the receiver’s route. Fangio has always been willing to forgo speed (in his corners) as long as they have the size, strength, and length he desires.

With Hall the Bears have a 6’2” corner who possesses 34 3/8-inch arms with huge hands (9 ¾). Hall also was a versatile defender at Northern Iowa having played multiple positions on the Panthers defensive unit including linebacker, safety, and cornerback. As a senior Hall, who was a three-year starter, started the first five games of the season at cornerback before being switched to safety for the remaining ten games.

Along with his tall frame Hall also has a 37-inch vertical and broad jumped almost 11 feet at the Combine displaying some outstanding lower-body explosiveness.

However, what is even more impressive when scouting Hall is his ability to get his hands on the ball and force turnovers. In 2015, Hall, who was the Missouri Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year, forced three fumbles, six passes broken up, to go along with six interceptions. For his career at Northern Iowa, Hall had 13 interceptions (four of which he returned for touchdowns) and 28 PBU’s.

Having put Hall’s preseason tape through the ringer you come away with mixed results, which is typical for a rookie especially considering the jump in competition Hall is going against coming from a FCS school.

What you notice right away with Hall is that he is comfortable pressing off the line of scrimmage. With his reach he is able to quickly get his big paws on a receiver and maintain contact down the field. Even if he does not necessarily have the foot speed to run step for step with the wide out his length keeps him in the vicinity which in turn allows him to have a chance to play the ball.

Hall’s height along with his lower body explosiveness (37-inch vertical) allow him to challenge some of the bigger receivers in the NFL, which is an element the Bears have missed on defense since Peanut Tillman left two years ago.

However, where Hall has struggled so far in the preseason has been his reluctance to turn his head and look back for the ball while in coverage downfield. A number of examples on tape show Hall in position to make a play on the ball but the rookie fails to turn his head around in time to see it coming.

In the preseason opener versus Denver Hall was credited with a PBU on back-to-back plays as Denver was trying to attack the rookie. If Hall, in either one of those plays, turns and locates the ball he might have had himself an interception.

Versus the Chiefs Hall gave up a 58-yard completion on a third and twenty play where once again if he just learns to turn his head he has a chance to pick off the pass or at worse case knock it down and get the defense off the field.

In that same game Hall struggled mightily in off man coverage and allowed a couple of easy completions as the receiver took the advantage of his lack of quick-twitch athleticism and his inability to suddenly break in on the ball by running quick hitting routes that gobbled up yardage and converted first downs.

Not possessing that quick-twitch change of direction transitional quickness and hip fluidity is why a number of teams had Hall projected as a safety rather than a corner coming into the draft.

Overall, I am still high on Hall as a developmental prospect and confident he will secure a spot as a future starter in the Bears secondary either at cornerback or safety in the near future. Hall’s ability to get his hands on the ball and create chances to take the ball away from the opposing offense will be another element the rookie can add to a Bears defense focused on creating more turnovers this season.

However, to ask him to go out in week one of his rookie campaign and possible matchup versus a receiver like the Texans DeAndre Hopkins might be a bit unrealistic.


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Danny Shimon

Danny Shimon

NFL Draft Columnist for NFL writer for National Football post and NFCNBarroom

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