The Chicago Bears had two players circled as the 2nd round of the draft unfolded. One was Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon, and the other was Penn State safety Jaquan Brisker. Nobody else was close to either. GM Ryan Poles would feel fortunate to land one of them with the 39th pick. Since cornerbacks are considered the more premium position, he went with Gordon. Then it became a waiting game. To the shock of everyone, Brisker was still available when the Bears came up again at the 48th pick. Poles didn’t hesitate.
While the GM didn’t get any early help for Justin Fields and the offense, he has zero regrets about the decision. All one has to do is follow training camp updates to understand why. Brisker has become a terror on the back end for the Bears defense. He’s making plays everywhere, knocking down or intercepting passes while also bringing a presence around the line of scrimmage as a run defender and blitzer. His versatility is incredible.
Where it becomes even more interesting is learning about his mindset.
Teammates and coaches at Penn State raved about Brisker’s leadership qualities. He was a vocal presence in the locker that everybody loved to follow. However, that can be a challenge as a rookie in the NFL. Being such a young guy in the presence of veterans, it is natural for him to let those with more experience do the leading. His answer was fascinating when asked how he changes that perception on 670 The Score.
What makes that comment so interesting (and exciting) is that it represents a rare mindset for a rookie. Brisker seems to understand that the gateway to having a voice in the locker room is simple. Make more plays on the field. When you make plays, your age won’t matter. Teammates will listen to you when you talk. It is a mindset that one of the greatest safeties in NFL history had. His name was Ronnie Lott.
Jaquan Brisker emulates Lott in many ways.
Obviously, it is premature to compare the 2nd rounder to one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history. That said, it is hard to ignore the similarities. Both were around the same size and had the same athletic profile. They had enough speed to make plays in coverage but also had an uncanny ability to deliver bone-jarring hits. More than anything, it’s their instincts that stand out. They always seemed to be in the right position at the right time.
If Jaquan Brisker ends up being anywhere close to Lott as a player, he will go down as one of the biggest draft steals in Bears history. It already looks like he’ll be an immediate impact starter in 2022. His sights are set on winning Defensive Rookie of the Year. Something even Lott failed to do thanks to the presence of Lawrence Taylor.
It would make for a massive opening statement about what’s to come.
One thing is for sure. Teammates and coaches are already buying in. They see what Brisker is and what he could mean to their defense. People never realize how valuable a great safety is in the NFL until you have one. I hope to enter that conversation soon.
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