The Bears signed sixth-round CB Duke Shelley to his rookie deal on Thursday and now have their full five-man draft class under contract. It's certainly a welcome change after Roquan Smith, the team's top pick a year ago, missed the entire 2018 preseason amid a holdout and was the last of the NFL's 256 rookies to sign.
Shelley, the diminutive four-year starter from Kansas State, was selected in Round 6 with the 205th overall pick, which the Bears received from the New England Patriots as part of the trade-up for top pick David Montgomery. The 5-foot-9, 173-pound Shelley, who intercepted eight career passes with the Wildcats, is transitioning from playing almost exclusively on the perimeter in the Big 12 to the slot, where he's the favorite to back up vet Buster Skrine.
"He fits in, he’s going to be a nickel-type guy," Bears area scout Brett Ackley said shortly after the draft. "He played outside for them, but with his size, his toughness and instincts, this is a nickel-type player that fits in, he gives you snaps there because of his versatility, he can play special teams because of his speed. So he certainly has a role, and then his makeup as a person, he fits in well with these guys."
Shelley perhaps has been the Bears' most impressive newcomer on 'D' this offseason, frequently making plays on the football and showing the twitchiness and scrappy style the Bears lauded after drafting him. He had two red-zone pass breakups during one veteran minicamp team drill, even spurring teammates to chant "Duke" on a couple occasions out on the Halas Hall practice fields this spring.
Bears coach Matt Nagy praised Shelley's energy and "happy-go-lucky" temperament at the team's rookie minicamp last month and seemed pleased with the offseason work of the entire rookie crop on the team's "get-away" day last week.
"I think probably the biggest thing when I think about it, the biggest thing would be that they’re just all extremely mature," Nagy said. "That’s probably what comes to mind. So they take being mature out onto the practice field. They look to improve. ... But very, very impressed with that class."
The Bears currently are on a five-week break prior to returning to Bourbonnais in late July for their 18th consecutive training camp at Olivet Nazarene.