Why I believe Deiondre’ Hall will be a safety not cornerback

When the Bears drafted Deiondre’ Hall, a lot of the local media immediately began to state how much Hall reminded them of former Bears Cornerback and fan-favorite Charles “Peanut” Tillman.

Of course after mentioning something like this the word spreads throughout the fandom like a flame spreads through the forests of California during drought season.

I know it’s just a comparison and an opinion, but I also found it incredibly irresponsible of the media. Now you have the whole fan-base thinking they got a 23-year-old Tillman back on the team. Especially when I see him as a safety not a corner. Granted a lot of people thought Tillman should move over to safety, but that was in his latter years.

That’s just one of the many comparisons related to Tillman.

when looking at Hall it’s easy to see where the comps come from. They both came from small schools, have long arms and have the versatility to play multiple positions. Physically they mirror one another as well, but I do believe Hall has Tillman on arm length by a bit.

Tillman_inside092713Their measureables minus the arm length are hauntingly similar as well. Tillman had a 40″ vert. 131″ broad, 20 yard shuttle 3.89 with a 7.09 three cone time. Hall had a 37″ vert. 127″ broad, 4.06 20 yard shuttle and a 7.07 three cone.

As you can see they are similar athletically. Tillman is a little better athlete coming out of college with more quick twitch and the much faster 40 time. Hall was a very slow 4.68. Tillman ran a very good 4.49.

Now Hall narrowed down the gap at his pro day running a 4.55, but that’s hand timed which is much less accurate. Rule of thumb among scouts is to add another 7 tenths to that time which puts him at 4.62, so safe to say he has safety long speed.

Arguments will be made that his length makes up for it by being able to hold guys up at the line with a chuck while in press, but if a faster wide-out slips that chuck there is no make up speed and you have a race down the sideline with the wide receiver trying to outrun the last line of defense to pay-dirt.

Some may also argue that with his long arms he can still defend in the trail position a yard or so behind by being able to reach out for the ball before it reaches the wide-receiver, but if a ball is thrown with the proper loft and placed over the shoulder in stride there is nothing that can be done about it from a yard behind.

Hall also emulated his game to Tillman’s having this to say after a post draft interview:

I’ve always loved Charles Tillman.  I’ve always kind of tried to model my game after him, just being a ballhawk and getting that ball out,” Hall said in a post-draft teleconference.  “That was a key emphasis throughout my time at Northern Iowa.”

Some may also argue that the Bears can play him in off coverage which is how Tillman lined up most his career in former Bears head coach and current Illinois head coach Lovie Smith’s cover-2 zone coverage based defense.

While this is true Vic Fangio does not want to play off man or zone coverage from his corners most of the time. He wants have his corners in press man.

Yes he will tweak his scheme to suit players skill sets while he has them on the team, but when acquiring new talent it’s to play his way. So a new draftee is not going to come in as a primary zone corner one would have to believe.

Also the cover-2 skill set kind of profiles as a safety skill set.

Playing off, reading the quarterbacks eyes, staying disciplined with your landmarks and coming downhill on the ball.

If you see a lot of the tape on Hall you’ll see most of his picks are coming from him playing like a safety or at safety. It’s why I feel his position on this team will be at safety. Mainly playing center-field in single high in my opinion.

Of course Fangio requires his safeties to be interchangeable so Hall will play in the box a lot and he’s an excellent blitzer with great timing and instincts, but in coverage he’ll be positioned off mostly maybe pressing up on a tight end with the same speed.

Also as his measureables will show he does not have the necessary quick twitch to flip his hips off of press which will make him lose even a step more.

The tape too. That’s what made Tillman so special. His ability to move like a smaller corner-back. I do believe he’ll play a snap here or there at corner when teams are in 00 (No RB or TE), or 01/10 personnel (no RB and 1 TE/1 RB and no TE) to match up with all the wide-receivers, or to help cover the flex tight-end in 2 tight end sets (12, 13, or 23 formations), as well as an injury replacement.

Although in a three TE set (also know as a Jumbo set) Hall may be swapped out for an extra linebacker or linemen as the third TE is usually a linemen in short yardage or goal line situations. They already have a couple of safeties who have that ability on the roster in Harold Jones-Quartey, and Adrian Amos.

It’s why it’s a good thing to have a hybrid system with hybrid players. Helps with match-up scenario’s as well as injury replacement purposes.

Not sure who will eventually be the 5 starters in the secondary, but it’s safe to say there’s a very good chance hall can win a job with the Bears not having an irreplaceable player at the open positions of competition. At current I see it as being both safety spots and at nickel.

Although Bryce Callahan and Amos did very well as rookies not to mention Jones-Quartey none have built up the credibility to be able to just be handed jobs. Either way you know that Hall will factor into the Bears equation this season in a very prominent way. Hopefully to the positive side of it.

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