The Chicago Bears have made securing the secondary, specifically at cornerback, a priority. In the past five drafts, they selected eight cornerbacks. Three of those cornerbacks were drafted in the second round. They had to since the NFL is a passing league. Having a strong secondary against heavy-pass offenses is a must.
The latest second-round cornerback is Tyrique Stevenson. The Miami (FL) product was the 56th overall pick. From the moment he hit training camp, he's had to fight for his time on the field. The Bears also drafted Terell Smith three rounds later. Smith gave Stevenson a run for his money but Stevenson won the starting outside cornerback job.
Being a rookie on the outside, Stevenson felt he would be picked on by opposing quarterbacks. He was right. Entering Sunday's game, he was targeted 73 times. That was the third-most in the league. He allowed 49 catches (67.1 percent) for 513 yards. His outside cornerback partner, Jaylon Johnson, has only been targeted 36 times.
Stevenson has gotten better as the season progresses. He has had a number of opportunities to make an interception but was not able to do it. That changed on Sunday, however. He finally got his first interception when he picked off Jared Goff in the first quarter. He later forced a fumble on special teams so he had a big game.
Tyrique Stevenson understands that he has a target on him, yet the Chicago Bears cornerback is earning while under pressure.
Stevenson understands the nature of the position. Quarterbacks will go after cornerbacks and sometimes there will be big plays. Early in the season, Stevenson, along with his teammates in the secondary, allowed a lot of big plays. They started to curtail that lately, however. That was until Goff got a 32-yard touchdown completion (which was not on Stevenson's side).
Stevenson was an impressive player last season at Miami. He understood what the receivers wanted to do and he handled things. As a rookie in the NFL, he has to re-learn the receivers' tendencies so he can get comfortable again. He explained that to the Chicago Tribune's Bears beat writer Brad Biggs.
"My senior year of college, I understood what the offense was going to try to do or the receiver just because of the traits they had. I’m working to getting back to that habit in the NFL where all of this and all of the players are new to me."- Tyrique Stevenson
Having a young cornerback unit helps Stevenson. He can go to Johnson or Kyler Gordon for advice. They can give him recent experience. Fuller went through what Stevenson did just last season. Johnson was picked on in his rookie season in 2020. However, he has improved every season since. Now he is on the cusp of signing a big second contract.
Despite the early hiccups, Stevenson is progressing the way the Chicago Bears want. He will learn from his bumps and bruises. He loves the challenge and says he will use his rookie season as motivation this offseason so he can be much better in 2024.