2024 Bears Draft Target: T.J. Tampa
Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports

2024 Bears Draft Target: T.J. Tampa

by - Senior Writer -

From now until round one of the 2024 NFL Draft, the Bears roster has not only a lot of changes that it will undergo but also several big changes that need to be made. You already saw some of those changes starting to occur with Cody Whitehair and Eddie Jackson being released, but that may only be the beginning.

You then look at some guys like Justin Fields and whether or not he will be here long-term, or even Jaylon Johnson, as his contract has ended and he is about to hit free agency. When it comes to Johnson, there is a chance the Bears franchise tag him, which they can do any day now, but that is different from what either side wants. They want a long-term deal and will do what they need to to make that happen.

However, as we have seen before, the decision of Johnson will most likely come down to money, and if the Bears don't fork out the money he deserves, someone else will. Should that happen, the Bears will be down their top CB alongside Kyler Gordon, leaving a gaping hole in the secondary. That could force the Bears hand to draft a CB to replace Johnson and it may not be something they need to do on day one.

If this is the direction the Bears need to go, look for Chicago to scout TJ Tampa, as he would be the perfect addition for this team. A strong fit for the Bears hybrid Cover 2 and Cover 3 zone scheme, Tampa is an excellent zone coverage corner who isn’t afraid to support in the run game. Tampa can contribute immediately as a rotational player in nickel-and-dime packages on third down with a long-term goal of becoming a starter.

At 6-2 and 200 pounds, Tampa is one of the more physical and bigger CBs in this year's class and someone who isn't afraid to play physical. Like so many of this year's top prospects, Tampa is already 24 years old, but with COVID affecting 2020 and even parts of 2021, he used those extra years of eligibility to his advantage to improve his prospect status further.

Across his career with Iowa State, the former Cyclone accounted for 106 tackles, three interceptions, and 19 pass deflections. Considering his size and how he plays, you could compare him to Johnson, as both are more of a pass-breakup CB than a sure-handed CB. Going back to this past season, Tampa took home AP Third-Team All-American, First-Team All-Big 12, and Honorable Mention All-Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. That came after picking up 44 tackles, two interceptions, and seven pass deflections, which shows how often he was around the ball.

Unlike many CBs in this year's draft, Tampa is one of those players who thrives in zone coverage as he has a great understanding of route concepts, allowing him to play with timing and anticipation in zone coverage. Given his sheer size as one of the biggest, if not the biggest, CBs in this year's class, Tampa is a Willing tackler against the run and limits yards after the catch for receivers. The second part was an issue for Chicago, so that would be a pleasant addition on its own.

While he is a master in zone coverage, his man-to-man coverage ability needs a bit of work, as he was often inconsistent in production. Considering the NFL is primarily a man-to-man league, that is something Tampa will need to fix if he wants a shot to be a starter. Although he is a bigger CB and likes to play physically, he doesn't always show that.

He struggles to press receivers at the line and struggles with more physical players, especially bigger receivers. That is something we could look to do against him at the next level. A winning tackler, Tampa has also been known for taking bad angles against the run and failing to wrap up the ball carrier consistently.

With several young CBs still on this roster, adding CB depth isn't a significant need for this team, but it is a need they want to pay attention to. Now, losing Johnson would change all of that as this position would become a position of need with his departure. Tampa has the size, IQ, and skill to become another threat in the Bears’ secondary and would elevate everyone else's game around him, knowing the front-office strategy of Ryan Poles. Should he become a target, this would be a perfect round-two guy with instant starter potential.

Comment on this story
Send Feedback to Dustin Riese: Email | Comment
Post your comments!