Preseason Preview: CB Tyrique Stevenson

| August 9th, 2023

As Saturday’s preseason game approaches, the position battles across Chicago’s roster are bound to heat up — and no battle is burning fiercer at the moment than Tyrique Stevenson’s duel with Terell Smith for the starting Cornerback spot across from Jaylon Johnson.

The two long, physical corners approach the position with very different styles and draft pedigrees — Stevenson, picked at #56 in a trade-up with Jacksonville, stood out at the Senior Bowl due to his skills as a man cover corner. With explosion in each step, firm hands, and a quick trigger for the football, Stevenson controlled man coverage matchups throughout his time in both Mobile and Miami while still showing enough awareness in zone coverage (especially as a flat defender) to make sure you knew he could handle his assignments.

Smith (pick #164), on the other hand, stands out for his work as a zone defender — while not the most explosive corner in America, Smith manages the spatial relationship between him and his WRs exceptionally well. He’s not as quick when triggering downhill and he lacks the natural explosion that Stevenson possesses, but his awareness as a DB is advanced enough that I’m not surprised the Bears tried him at Safety. For all we know, that may still be part of the Bears’ plan for Smith.

Given the daily battle for the starting spot, the next 3 Saturdays could play a pivotal role in deciding the Bears’ Week 1 starter. On account of that, I’ve pulled together the post-draft film reels I made covering Tyrique Stevenson to help you get to know the young Bears’ corner before he suits up this weekend. Check them out and let me know what you think!

Reel 1: Stevenson has the size, speed, and versatility to thrive in both Man and Zone coverage, making him a nice fit within the Bears’ defense. He plays an aggressive style of football that should help him challenge QBs and WRs alike.

Editor’s Note: I apologize for how WordPress is double-embedding the replied videos. It’s a good lesson learned for the next time I embed short videos, but there’s no great way around this format for today’s post

Reel 2: While he’s not consistent in run defense yet yet, Stevenson’s explosiveness shines when he triggers downhill on swing passes, screens, and runs. He’s got the physicality he needs to eventually become a capable force defender on the ground, but he wasn’t ‘there yet’ in college — I’m curious to see what a few weeks at Halas Hall have done for him.

Reel 3: I love Stevenson, but his Miami tape shows some of the worst tackling I saw from DBs when studying the 2022 class. With an outrageous 17.1% missed tackle rate in school, Stevenson has me wondering whether his poor tackling was somehow an attempt to protect the shoulder he’d just surgically repaired before his senior year. Either way, improvements in tackling form is an easy note to watch for on Saturday.

Reel 4: But while Stevenson has plenty of inconsistencies he’ll need to iron out before he thrives, his issues aren’t surprising given his turbulent college background — after transferring from Georgia to Miami, the HC that recruited him back to The U was summarily fired and a new Defensive Coordinator was brought in. The new DC’s scheme was messily implemented and did not produce, leading to that DC’s replacement at the end of Miami’s (and Stevenson’s year).

I can’t say for certain that stability over time will definitely be good for Tyrique, but consistent coaching from Matt Eberflus, Alan Williams, and the rest of the Bears’ staff should help Stevenson attack his weak areas throughout his rookie year. I’d expect week-to-week improvement.