After upgrading Mitch Trubisky's weapons in Rounds 3-4, the Bears — who sent their fifth-rounder to the New England Patriots on Friday in the David Montgomery trade — turned their attention to the NFL's top-rated scoring defense in Round 6 with the selection of Kansas State CB Duke Shelley.
Shelley made 37 combined starts over four seasons, finishing his career with eight interceptions — including two pick-sixes — and 39 passes defensed. Shelley also returned kicks in his senior season in 2018, when he averaged 19.1 yards on 16 returns, with a long of 37 yards. However, his career ended abruptly when he suffered a toe injury against Oklahoma State in Game 8.
"Ah, man, that was a very good game," said Shelley. "I think they came at me five or six times. I ended up walking away with two interceptions and ended up having about six tackles. So it was a really good game for me. I hate that it was the last of my college career, but ... just to show that picking up that last game of my college season and taking it to the next level is something I’m ready to do."
Shelley wasn't invited to the scouting combine but measured in at the Wildcats pro day at 5-foot-9 and 173 pounds. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.51 seconds and the three-cone drill in 7.1 seconds. Interestingly, the Bears announced the pick of Shelley as a defensive back, not corner, so it'll be interesting to hear from Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy what role they envision for him. He said his slot experience in college was limited, but "I can play in the slot, 100 percent, like the back of my hand."
A native of Tucker, Georgia, who is earning his degree in communications, Shelley enters a deep and talented Bears CB stable, whose starting rotation is solidified after they signed Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara to big contracts last offseason and replaced Bryce Callahan with Buster Skrine last month. Chicago led the NFL with 27 interceptions and a paltry 5.29-yard average per pass play.
But the Bears have more than $68 million committed to their CB room over the next two years, which is the NFL's second-highest total. Thus, Shelley is likely viewed as a long-range developmental prospect who might be able to compete for the backup KR duties behind Cordarrelle Patterson.
"I couldn't ask for a better situation, couldn't ask to be in a better position," said Shelley, who said he has a lot of familiarity with the Bears 'D' and knows Roquan Smith, whom he spent time with coming out of High School together in Georgia. "I'm waiting to get after it again. I know those guys on the defensive side are some dogs. I'm going to be a dog too. I'm going to come there and we are going to get to work."