Zeroing In On the Last DB to Make the 53
The Chicago Bears have the majority of their defensive backfield solidified. It's filled with all-pro's, productive starters, and sound backups. It seems like a backup corner position is what is open currently, but I don't think it is that simple. Pictured below is the Bears defensive backs depth chart.
As you can, see Sherrick McManus is not on the depth chart. Not only is he a special teams star, but he also played well when called upon last year. The Bears decided to switch McManus to safety, and so far this preseason he has been rotated in with the third team. He also hasn't played the nickel, but I'm sure it's because the Bears already know his skill sets and what he brings to the position. Both Skrine and Shelley are versatile enough to shift over from nickel to corner, so that leads me to believe the last spot goes through McManus. It's easy to justify carrying a fifth safety if it doesn't mean losing a corner in the process. Let's take a look at his competition.
Chicago Media has pinpointed John Franklin the III, and so far, he has been the first corner to rotate in after Tolliver. Next comes Michael Joseph, followed by Clifton Duck. After watching the first two games, I think it is time to move Franklin down the depth chart. Unfortunately, his inexperience with the position keeps showing up. I know he is big and athletic, but he seems to lack the physicality it takes to play defense. Then you have a player like Clifton Duck. He lacks the size and physical attributes Franklin has, but has experience and is extremely physical. I did a video breakdown comparing the two. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxY8-s4wjc4&lc=z22fzjk5hmfefdsxk04t1aokgborctxce5ufqueyviasbk0h00410)
Michael Joseph is a more productive defensive back than Franklin, but I wouldn't put him ahead of Duck. To me, it comes down to Clifton Duck or Sherrick McManus. On one hand, you have a reliable four-phase special teamer/back up, who's maxed his potential out. On the other, you have the kid that plays hungry, who is just starting his journey into the NFL.
One thing that plays a role in all of this is practice squad eligibility. If the Bears cut McManus, they save about $1.5 million in cap space. If the Bears place Duck on the practice squad, and he clears waivers, the Bears get to have their cake and eat it too. Players clear waivers most of the time, but if Pace sees a future in Duck, he won't risk it. Cutting McManus and keeping Duck wouldn't even be considered an aggressive move by Pace's standards. It hurts me to write this because the man has done nothing but play hard for the team and the city. It is just one of those "business side of football," decisions. If Duck keeps making plays, it will be hard for the Bears to pass on him. Don't be surprised if you see him starting alongside Kevin Tolliver on Saturday. He has made a few highlight-reel plays this preseason, but his willingness and effort are what sticks out most on tape. That's always something the Chicago fan base can get behind, ask Jay Cutler.