Welcome back! This is the second day of the NFL’s three-day draft extravaganza, and as with last night’s coverage, I’ll be on Twitter throughout, and posting Bears-relevant thoughts on this space as things happen. The Bears have two picks (so far) tonight: #51 and #82, in the second and third rounds, respectively.
The time between picks drops to seven minutes for the second round, and then five minutes for the third, quickening the pace considerably. It should be a very interesting night for the Bears, and for the league in general.
A few quick thoughts:
- I’d expect the Bears to remain focused on the best player available, with perhaps a preference for a defender if things are close. They still have a glaring need at safety, and to be honest most everywhere else on defense save cornerback and defensive end.
- A guy like Florida State defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan was once connected to the Bears in the first round of many mock drafts, and he’s still available for a variety of reasons. (Including a failed drug test at the combine. While that alone doesn’t doom a player to future failure, it’s certainly not the best of signs, since prospects know they’ll be tested.)
- Though the Bears selected a cornerback in the first round (if you somehow missed that, it was Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller) I think it’s possible that the late first round run of safeties selected could push the Bears to take another cornerback, with an eye on converting him to safety. That certainly carries some risks as well; they tried the exact same thing with third-rounder Brandon Hardin in 2012, with very poor results.)
- Finally, and this isn’t strictly draft news, Browns receiver Josh Gordon is reportedly facing a season-long suspension for another failed marijuana test. I wonder how that will factor in to the Browns strategy going forward, and how it might have impacted their decision to trade down from #4 last night (delivering Sammy Watkins to the Bills) had they known. (I’m not sure at what point teams are informed of failed tests; if someone has more concrete knowledge, feel free to share.)
Enjoy the draft!
The Bears selected LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson with the 51st overall pick. This was a bit of a surprise, although at that point in the draft it’s tough to gauge where teams are with their boards. The early reviews are that Ferguson is a bit of a project, which some might view as a red flag; but then, the same thing was said about Kyle Long last year, so I’m willing to take an open-minded view of things.
It’s tough to get a handle on his measurables; as noted by CBS Chicago’s Adam Hoge, he sat out most workouts at the Combine due to an ankle injury. He’s certainly a big body, at 6’3″, 315, and his strength projects to be against the run. (Which would certainly be welcome.)
I’ll have more on Ferguson later, and the Bears are now waiting until pick #82 to make their final selection of the night. (Barring any trades, of course.)
With the 82nd overall pick (18th in the third round) the Bears selected Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton. According to a few reports I’ve seen on Twitter, Sutton’s 2012 season was superior to his 2013 season, and they attribute that to his gaining weight going into 2013; I’m confident the Bears will be able to get him to what they feel is his optimal weight.
Assuming the conditioning concerns are controllable, Sutton seems like a solid upside play at #82. The Bears had a historically bad rushing defense last year, and I ranked the defensive tackle position as the fourth-neediest. The Bears have tried to address that tonight, taking two players to compete with Nate Collins (returning from an ACL), Jeremiah Ratliff (really good when healthy, but aging), Stephen Paea (also injury-prone, and hasn’t taken a step foward), and veteran Izzy Idonije (more of a rotation piece at this point in his career.) They needed more depth, youth, and talent all across the defensive line, and after targeting the edges in free agency, they’ve targeted the interior in the draft.
Sutton is more of a projectable pass rush defensive tackle, as opposed to Ferguson’s run-stopping strengths. (Again, this is all projection.) They’re both wide bodies, although Sutton might not stay that way; neither is massively tall, but shorter defensive tackles can often use that to their advantage to gain leverage against offensive linemen. (Scouts raved about Aaron Donald’s ability to do just that.)
When I think of a dominant pair of defensive tackles, I’m always reminded of the Keith Traylor/Ted Washington era; two huge space eaters that occupied blockers and allowed Brian Urlacher to freely roam. It’s also important to have disruptive players in the middle when you consider the newly acquired pass rushers; interior pressure prevents teams from continuously doubling on the outside.
All in all, I’m as optimistic as I can be in May. It seems like the Bears have drafted players at or near the top of their overall board (whether or not the rest of the league agreed) who also filled positions of need. All three players they’ve chosen should see the field next season, and for a team that’s angling to compete, that has value.