Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles surprised analysts with his selection of safety Jaquan Brisker in the second round of April’s draft. The Bears were expected to target a wide receiver with one of their two second-rounders, so when Poles prioritized the defensive backfield, eyebrows were raised.
But now that the dust has settled on the 2022 NFL Draft, it’s Brisker who has a chance to be Chicago’s most valuable rookie.
Sure, cornerback Kyler Gordon plays a flashier position. And wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. has a better chance to be featured on primetime highlight shows. But it’s Brisker’s potential impact on defense that can flip a decent group into a fearsome one. And it’s all about the turnovers he can create.
“That’s the standard around here, so creating turnovers is what we do,” Brisker said last week during Bears minicamp. “And that was also in my DNA. I feel like I attack the ball. I attack the ball whether that’s forcing a fumble or whether that’s going for an interception. So I love being around the football and obviously getting it back for the offense.”
Coach Matt Eberflus has been preaching turnovers since replacing Matt Nagy this offseason. In many ways, his H.I.T.S. philosophy is reminiscent of former Lovie Smith defenses, when defenders swarmed the football. Brisker is a throwback to that style.
Brisker joins veteran Eddie Jackson in what’s become an exciting safety tandem since draft weekend. Jackson’s play has been hot and cold since emerging as one of the NFL’s top defensive playmakers in 2018, in part because of a lack of a clear running mate on the defense’s third level. Now, with Brisker in place, Jackson can focus on being the elite ballhawk that he is.
The Chicago Bears kick off training camp later next month. Jaquan Brisker will be a starter, and by the time the 2022 season ends, he’ll be one of Chicago’s most important players.
Bryan is the founder and managing editor of Bears Talk. His previous stops include Bears coverage for NBC Sports Chicago and USA Today. His NFL Draft and Bears coverage has also been featured on The Draft Network.