LAKE FOREST, Ill. (670 The Score) — For the Bears to execute general manager Ryan Poles' vision to build a team that has lasting success, it’s imperative that they hit on their top draft picks. And that starts with the first selection ever made by Poles’ regime: second-year cornerback Kyler Gordon.
As a rookie in 2022, Gordon struggled while stepping into the nickel cornerback role. He recorded three interceptions but ranked 109th among all players at his position in Pro Football Focus' grades. Gordon was often targeted and exploited, beginning in his second career game, which came against star quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
As the 24-year-old Gordon prepares for his second NFL season, he seems calmer and more controlled. He has settled in as the Bears’ nickel cornerback and is growing more comfortable, both with his place in the Bears' defensive system and also with the team.
“I do feel like extremely comfortable,” Gordon said. “I feel like I know my place, where I’m supposed to be and stuff like that. So, definitely coming back this second year, I definitely don’t have any of the ‘Where am I?’ like I did the first year. I feel like I know where I’m at, what’s going on and where I fit.”
Bears defensive coordinator Alan Williams stated it in clearer terms.
“It’s the product of not being a rookie,” Williams said.
In that September game at Lambeau Field last season, Gordon was torched by Rodgers and the Packers. He was targeted 13 times and allowed 10 receptions for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Immediately, there was uncertainty surrounding Gordon's potential just months after the Bears selected him at No. 39 overall in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Now, the Bears believe Gordon is set to ascend in his second season.
“It's the process,” Bears coach Matt Eberflus said. “You have to go through the process of it. But you can certainly see his confidence growing in the position. That nickel position is a hard position. You do a lot of different things in there, a lot of different techniques. Things happen fast in there. You have to fit the run. So, there's a lot of things that you have to do in there as a football player, and we're fortunate to have him in there.”
Gordon is part of a promising young Bears secondary that's been constructed by Poles and his brass. Jaylon Johnson and rookie Tyrique Stevenson project to start at the outside cornerback spots, while Eddie Jackson and Jaquan Brisker – who was also a second-round pick in 2022 – will man the safety positions.
After a challenging rookie season, Gordon is feeling poised and prepared for his second year in the league. The hope is he can blossom into a cornerstone for the Bears' future.
“That year is over and I learned what I needed to learn from it,” Gordon said. “It’s just going to get better and better.”
Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.