For the past few years, the popular topic of discussion around town was moving cornerback Charles Tillman to safety because he’s a big, physical defensive back who can strip the ball with the best of them and also upgrade the coverage of the secondary.
In the last two years alone, that talk heated up because the Bears received solid contribution from Trumaine McBride in 2007 and Corey Graham 2008.
According to the Sun-Times, moving Tillman to safety will not happen this year despite the departure of long-time veteran Mike Brown, and I think that’s the smart decision.
Tillman’s value at cornerback is still at its peak. As a rule of thumb, you don’t weaken one position to strengthen another. And cornerbacks that can play effectively in this league are hard to come by. Plus, it’s difficult to project a player’s long-term value. For instance, using the above example, after McBride filled in nicely in 2007, he was passed on the depth chart by Graham and was relegated to special teams this past year. The same could happen with Graham this year. And nobody knows what to expect from second-year player Zackary Bowman.
Somewhere in the future, after Tillman’s seen his best days in the NFL, moving him to safety could be used as a means of prolonging his career. Several cornerbacks have made the move to safety after their coverage skills declined in the waning years of their career and it’s conceivable that Tillman could wind up doing the same.
However, even though the Bears — in my estimation — have a huge problem at safety as of right now, they’d have an even bigger one if they weakened the cornerback position by moving Tillman prematurely.