The Bears wrapped up the 2019 NFL draft by selecting Valdosta State CB Stephen Denmark with their second of two seventh-round selections, No. 238 overall.
A king-sized Division II corner at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Denmark began his career with the Blazers as a wide receiver prior to transitioning to corner last season. He tallied 29-337-3 receiving from 2015-17 prior to breaking through on defense with 32 tackles (4 TFLs), eight passes defensed and one interception last season.
Denmark showed off rare athleticism at the Valdosta State pro day, recording a 43.5-inch vertical, 130-inch broad jump and a 4.46-second 40-yard dash. The vertical would have been the best among all defensive backs invited to the scouting combine, while the broad jump would be barely outside of the top five and the 40 would have been the fastest by any defensive back in attendance as big as Denmark.
Denmark is the second cornerback the Bears selected this year, joining sixth-rounder Duke Shelley, a much smaller cover man (5-9, 173) from a bigger pond at Kansas State.
What immediately comes to mind with these additions to the secondary is not only the juxtaposition between the freakishly big and athletic Denmark and smaller and seemingly more limited Shelley but the fact they become the first two pet projects for DC Chuck Pagano, a former safety who is revered for his work in the secondary.
“He’s just been buried in the tape really ever since he arrived," Pace said earlier this week of Pagano, who is credited with helping to turn his former Hurricane and Baltimore Ravens S Ed Reed into a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
"I really enjoy the conversations back and forth with him. I feel some of that ‘Baltimore.’ When I think of Baltimore, it’s the toughness, the ruggedness. You feel that from Chuck when we’re talking about players. Chuck is kind of a DB guy, so I really enjoy [talking] defensive backs with him. That’s kind of his forte. But it’s been very good.”