Chicago Bears Safety Jaquan Brisker has been named by Chicagobears.com as the team’s rookie of the year. The ball-hawking safety made an impact early and often. Brisker’s production this season was prolific, leading the team in sacks (4), joining Dave Duerson (’86) and Todd Bell (’84) as the only defensive backs in team history to record four or more sacks in a season. His 103 total tackles were good for second on the team, and third best among all rookies. Brisker was also named to Pro Football Focus’ All-Rookie team.
A Strong Start
Originally selected in the second round of the 2022 draft, the Penn State product’s versatility was on display all season. Bears’ defensive coordinator Alan Williams took full advantage of the rookie’s ability to seemingly be everywhere. Brisker logged 371 snaps coming from the slot, 150 along the line of scrimmage, and 289 snaps in deep coverage. Williams remarked on Brisker’s development earlier this season,
“Starting off, we all knew he was physical, and he would hit and he would run to the ball,” Williams said. “Starting off, it was just that. See ball, get ball. Now I started to see him getting to the ball with a purpose within the scope of the defense and being on the details, and not just running to the football, but running to the football within the scope of the defense.”
The rookie safety started 15 games and played every defensive snap in all but three of those contests. Brisker finished the season with 28 defensive stops, which was 10th best among all safeties in the NFL.
Veteran team leader and fellow safety Eddie Jackson took note of the rookies ability early on in training camp. The two formed a strong relationship that has translated to one of the best safety tandems in the league. Jackson’s excitement for the future was palpable in the comments he made to Chicagobears.com earlier this month.
“That’s my boy. That’s my boy, man. It’s like little brother and me. We’ve got a strong connection off the field as well, so I’m excited, and just to see what he’s capable of doing and just to see the type of dog he has in him. He’s a feisty guy, man. He wants to hit every play. To have a guy like that is exciting.”
The Future Is Now
The Chicago Bears committed to elevating their young talent throughout the 2022 season. Chicago had 12 rookies appear in at least 12 games, nine rookies start at least one contest, and another 18 rookies make an appearance in at least one game. In addition to Brisker, the Bears added two more rookies to the Pro Football Focus 2022 All-Rookie Team. Left tackle Braxton Jones and middle linebacker Jack Sanborn were also honored at their respective positions.
Jones, a fifth round pick out of Southern Utah, had an up and down year in pass protection, however the rookie shined in the run game, earning a PFF grade of 79.4.
Sanborn, who was un-drafted coming out of Wisconsin, got of to a hot start in the pre-season leading the Bears in tackles. Despite his early success, the middle linebacker saw limited action throughout the first half of the season. When Sanborn finally got into the starting lineup, the rookie quickly became a force. In six games as a starter Sanborn racked up 24 defensive stops. His stop rate applied over a 17-game season would have ranked second in the league.
Chicago will look to continue their rebuild as they hold 8 picks in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft, including the highly coveted first overall selection.