It didn’t take long for Jaquan Brisker to make his presence felt in his first NFL opportunity.
The rookie safety for the Chicago Bears made quite the impression in the team’s preseason debut against the Kansas City Chiefs, finishing with four tackles, a tackle-for-loss and a pass breakup in 25 snaps.
Chicago spent one of its two 2022 second-round picks on Brisker, selecting the Penn State playmaker at No. 48 overall with the hopes he could help revamp a secondary that ranked 23rd in PFF’s annual power rankings after last season.
Heavy’s NFL insider Matt Lombardo spoke to Brisker’s former college coach, who thinks the Bears rookie has a good chance to become an elite safety in the league.
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Brisker ‘Has a Chance to Be Special,’ Franklin Says
“Some guys are elite in the passing game but average against the run, or vice-versa,” Brisker’s college coach James Franklin told Heavy. “Jaquan has a chance to be special in both.”
Franklin coached Brisker at Penn State for three years, so he’s familiar with the way the 23-year-old safety approaches the game.
“Jaquan is very coachable,” Franklin said. “He’s humble, driven to be great, and football is really important to him. Obviously, he has great physical traits, but what makes him so special is how much he loves the game and how great he wants to be at it.”
Brisker earned better than an 82.0 overall grade from Pro Football Focus in each of his three seasons with the Nittany Lions. In 12 games in 2021, he played 786 total snaps on defense (406 in coverage, 366 on run defense) and established himself a solid defender against both the run and the pass.
He allowed opposing quarterbacks a 46.8 passer rating when throwing his way, giving up 12 receptions on 21 targets while forcing six incompletions. He also had 18 run stops, often flying to the ball carrier, displaying a smooth blend of strength and speed.
If Brisker continues playing the way he did against Kansas City, the Bears and their fans may have the next great safety since the hard-hitting Mike Brown (2000-2008).
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AFC Exec: Brisker Is ‘Really Unselfish’ Player
“What I liked the most about him coming out is he’s really unselfish and really willing to help out in run-support,” an AFC personnel executive told Lombardo. “He flashes in coverage at times, and is probably more of a strong safety.”
That should work perfectly with the role that the Bears’ other starting safety, All-Pro Eddie Jackson, likes to play. With Brisker lurking in the box and eager defend against the run, Jackson will be allowed to sit and roam on the back end in the free safety role he is most comfortable in.
Lombardo also thinks Brisker is one of the six NFL rookies who is helping his own stock rise the most so far in the preseason, calling the 6-foot-1, 200-pound safety “a bit of a Swiss Army Knife, of sorts, both in coverage and up near the line of scrimmage.”
It’s a small sample size, but based on his performance in Chicago’s 19-14 win over Kansas City, the Bears got a real one in Brisker. His former coach certainly thinks so.