Kyle Fuller has had one of the most interesting Bears careers in recent memory. He’s gone from promising rookie to impending bust to injured potential cap casualty to comeback story and as we sit here today he’s virtually a lock to go to his first Pro Bowl.
He was fantastic last season and has proven his doubters wrong who believed his improved play was merely a fluke in a contract year by being one of the best corners in the league in his fifth season.
Bears fans see it week in and week out. But the casual football fan has only seen him play in prime time games. He isn’t widely considered a top corner outside of Chicago.
But when compared to other players at the position, he more than holds his own. In fact, his play this season has put him in the conversation for All-Pro.
Here is his case:
*For this scenario we are only including corners with at least 300 coverage snaps this season.*
Fuller is so important to the Bears’ defense. Because of this, he rarely comes off the field playing 97 percent of the defensive snaps.
He is 10th in the league for corners in total snaps at 848, but he is all the way up to third in most coverage snaps with 582. His reliability is one of the things that sets him apart from other players at the position.
It is not enough to simply be on the field though. If you want to be considered the best, you have to produce.
Fuller has done just that.
Teams aren’t shying away from targeting Fuller, but maybe they should start. Despite being the fourth most targeted cornerback in football, he is only surrendering a quarterback rating of 62.6. That number is tied for best in the entire NFL with Xavien Howard, who while making a push for All-Pro himself, has played 114 fewer coverage snaps this season.
Fuller also leads the league in both interceptions (tied with seven) and passes defended (19). Somewhat important stats when discussing defensive backs.
The traditional cornerback stats favor Fuller, and the advanced stats match up with the eye test.
He is Pro Football Focus’s third-ranked cornerback with a grade of 89.1. His coverage grade is even better sitting at an even 90.
No matter what stat you look at, Fuller is having a great season.
But is it truly an All-Pro caliber season?
Let’s compare him to some of the recent winners of the award.
As you can see Fuller more than holds his own with the best of the best.
But all of those players have another thing in common: team success. In 2017, the Jaguars (Ramsey) and Vikings (Rhoades) went to their respective conference championships. In 2016, the Chiefs made it to the divisional round. The Broncos (Talib) just missed the playoffs at 9-7 almost entirely on the back of their defense. And in 2015, the Panthers (Norman) made it to the Super Bowl while the Cardinals (Peterson) lost in the conference championship game.
All of those teams were also the best defenses in the league. In fact, in 2017 the Jaguars and Vikings were one and two in points allowed per game respectively. The other teams all finished in the top eight defenses in their respective years.
We know the Bears will (most likely) make the playoffs and have a chance to go pretty far. Fuller is the best cornerback on the best defense in the NFL. Like it or not, voters have shown to take these factors into account.
Now there are still three games to play, but I wouldn’t expect his numbers to decline. In fact, I would be surprised if they don’t improve as Fuller is playing his best ball of the season.
Over the last four weeks, he is allowing only 8.4 yards per reception, zero touchdowns and has three picks.
Whether he becomes an All-Pro or not, there is no denying Fuller is one of the top cornerbacks in the league today. That is a true testament to his character and work ethic considering where he was just a few seasons ago.