LAKE FOREST – Matt Eberflus and Ryan Poles made a statement when they tabbed cornerback Kyler Gordon as the first draft pick of their regime.
It made sense. The Bears' pass defense was horrific last season, and Gordon, a long, sticky cover corner, would fill a gaping hole in the secondary opposite Jaylon Johnson. Put plain and simple, Gordon has to be a Day 1 starter for the Bears if he's healthy.
While his NFL career is still in its infancy, Gordon is already turning heads at Halas Hall.
"Kyler's been lighting it up the last two days," Eberflus said Tuesday after the Bears' second OTA practice. "I'll just tell you that. The guy's got tremendous ball skills. He's been playing the defense the right way, and we're very impressed with him. I'll just tell you that. And he's doing a good job the first two days.
"We'll see where it goes. He's young. He's got a lot to learn, but we're excited with where he is with his ball-hawking skills. No question."
A star at Washington, Gordon didn't allow a touchdown in 722 coverage snaps during his time in Seattle, per ProFootballFocus.
He's got all the tools to be a lockdown corner in the NFL. Length, athleticism, ball skills, intelligence. You name it, Gordon has it.
But it's the athleticism that has shined early on in his time with the Bears.
"I mean you see guys being able to bend and contort and have body control like I talked about at the onset," Eberflus said. "Man, you know, that's been really good. It's been really good. And he's got a lot to learn because when you're playing corner in the NFL, you have a lot of skill sets you have to cover. I mean, you have to cover guys from all different types, all different skill levels, and that's a big task, and it's a hard position to play. So, he's got work to do, and he's going to do that."
Gordon and safety Jaquan Brisker were brought in to shore up a defensive backfield that was torched last season.
Johnson, a budding star corner, was happy to see the Bears focus on the secondary in the draft and liked what he saw from Gordon and Brisker.
"[Gordon's] made some plays as well as [Brisker]," Johnson said Tuesday. "I mean, the break on the ball. They're ballhawks. They're ball hungry. That's definitely a good thing knowing that they're aggressive towards the ball."
Defensive backs typically have a slower transition to the NFL. They have to adjust to the speed of the game before being counted as reliable against the wide-open, speed-heavy offenses of modern football.
But Johnson isn't one for easing in his new teammates. Instead, he wants to throw the rookies in the deep end and see if they can swim.
"S--t, I'd throw them in the fire if you asking me," Johnson said. "I mean, they're our first two draft picks. I feel like we've got to see what they can do right now. And then I feel like we can kind of know what the attitude and what the vibe is heading into camp. If I was the coach, I wouldn't ease them into it. I would throw them out there."
If it is indeed a trial by fire at Halas Hall for Gordon, early returns are encouraging for a Bears' defense that desperately needs help in the secondary. Help they hope Gordon and Brisker can provide on Day 1.