Bowman’s development gives Bears depth, flexibility

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During the 2008 draft, while skimming through one of four draft guides I had bought, I came across an interesting nugget. As I’m sure most of you are aware, most draft guides have some kind of graphic that lists one player who fits a certain category more than others at his position. For instance, those categories might be Stock on the Rise, Stock Falling, or Character Concerns. After the Bears selected Zack Bowman with pick No. 142, I was pleased to see that one of those guides — and the name of it escapes me at the moment — listed Bowman as the cornerback who was the biggest sleeper. They had written that Bowman had some success in college at Nebraska and that he possesses great talent, but because of his injury past, he was likely to slide in the draft.

Fortunately for the Bears, he fell into their laps. Even more fortunate, Bowman looks like he may prove that publication credible.

Bowman has been one of the biggest surprises this off-season in OTAs and has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff. Thus far through two days of training camp, he’s still turning heads.

“He has a great knack for the ball,” Devin Hester said of Bowman. “His hands are great and he can reach for it. His arm span is ridiculous.”

Hester would know that quite well as Bowman, who is filling in for the injured Charles Tillman on the first team defense, intercepted a deep pass from Jay Cutler that was intended for Hester.

Bowman’s development on defense mirrors that of Corey Graham’s last year. Graham improved so well that he leapfrogged Trumaine McBride on the depth chart despite McBride’s good rookie campaign. And when Nathan Vasher got hurt last year, Graham played well enough as a replacement that a lot of fans and media were clamoring about the possible release, trade, or position change for Vasher.

If Bowman continues down this current path, the Bears will suddenly have an abundance of cornerbacks, which is a good problem to have. With Tillman, Vasher, Graham, and Bowman, as well as promising rookie D.J. Moore, cornerback looks as though it won’t be a problem.

With an array of good cornerbacks, it’s no wonder the Bears experimented with both Bowman and Graham at free safety this off-season. It also makes sense why the Bears did not find it urgent to replace Mike Brown. If Danieal Manning does not pan out at free safety, it’s not inconceivable to see Graham or Bowman get some playing time there.

The state of the defensive backfield has to appear a little more stable and promising to Bears fans now than it did a few months ago.

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