Bears fills holes, add depth in NFL draft

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Bears fifth round choice, OT Jordan Mills of Louisiana Tech, getting ready prior to the snap.

Bears fifth round choice, OT Jordan Mills of Louisiana Tech, getting ready prior to the snap.

The Chicago Bears used the second and third day of the NFL draft to shore up needs in both the linebacking and offensive line areas.

In the second and fourth rounds, the Bears hope they added starters in LB’s Jon Bostic of Florida and Rutgers Khaseem Greene. Second rounder Bostic, 6-1, 245,  was an absolute hammer in the middle of the Gators defense, especially against the run. According to The Slant…2013 NFL Draft Guide, “He fights to take out blockers and to accomplish his assignment, but when he attacks with his shoulder Bostic fails to make a play on the football. Even though he?s not as tall as some coaches would like, his production (he led the Gators with 94 tackles as a junior), onfield attitude and instincts for the ball gives him a chance to eventually earn a starting job at the next level.  Instinctive, physical and productive against quality competition, Bostic ranks as one of the better no-nonsense run-stuffing inside linebackers of the 2013 draft class. As his five career interceptions and 7.5 sacks attest, he’s also capable of contributing against the pass.” Bostic is known as a vocal, team-leader type who can make the defensive signals.

As for Greene, he forced 15 fumbles in his Rutgers career while making the transition from safety to linebacker. The 6-1, 241 pound Greene has the speed and athletic skills the Bears look for in their linebackers. Bears General Manager Phil Emery thinks its a perfect fit. “Here’s a guy (Greene) that really fits what we’re trying to do. We really feel comfortable with him in three positions. He’d be a little bit more of the outside guy where John  (Bostic) would be the inside guy starting out. We see a good special teams player and what an amazing story on Khaseem in terms of – here’s a guy that played strong safety, he did start at that position. Moved to linebacker by [former Rutgers Head Coach] Greg Schiano – always trying to move the better athletes up to create more team speed – and what a response. 139 tackles, two-time conference player of the year in his only two years in football at linebacker – he had never played the position before. So to have 15 forced fumbles, to have that many tackles, he’s had seven picks – I think him and Manti Te’o were tied out of this linebacker class in picks. Khaseem by far was the run-away winner in terms of forced fumbles.”

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In the fifth round, the Bears swapped fifth round picks with Atlanta and also secured a seventh round choice. The team selected Louisiana Tech’s underrated OT Jordan Mills. Mills, 6-5, 316, played right tackle for the Bulldogs, and should start there in the pro’s. Emery mentioned he could play guard as well, thought the club plans to have him compete at right tackle.  The book on him, per The Slant Draft Guide,  is  that he is “a powerful player with tremendous size. He combines this size with great hustle. Aside from a couple starts at guard his freshman season, Mills has only played at right tackle, but scouts will likely see him as a versatile prospect capable of playing left tackle, right tackle, or guard. Passed the eyeball test, and played well as a late addition to the Senior Bowl roster. Mills appears best suited for right tackle, but could add versatility to a team’s offensive line.”

The last two Bears picks rate high on potential, but questions remain. Sixth rounder Cornelius Washington is an under the radar pass rusher with an explosive first step. He was overshadowed by higher profile teammates at Georgia and didn’t always play up to his abilities, but made his presence known to NFL evaluators with a strong Senior Bowl performance. With sound coaching and improved technique, Washington could be a potential steal.  Emery thinks as much. “We think that this is a player that’s still got a lot of ceiling. He loves football. He’s an SEC player used to dealing with high competition. It’s not like he had no production. He had 10.5 career sacks, I think he had 63 pressures by the (University of) Georgia count. We see a guy who can make plays, we see someone who has a great developmental upside. Anytime you can get a player with that kind of length, that body type and that explosiveness in his body that’s been at that level of competition and has experienced success, we feel like he’s still got a lot to grow into. We were awfully happy to still see him sitting there in the sixth-round believe me.”

The Bears last choice, seventh rounder Marquess Wilson of Washington State, is also a bit of a gamble. Highly productive throughout his Cougar career, Wilson and first-year head coach Mike Leach weren’t on the same page. After complaining of Leach’s treatment of players and after a particularly brutal conditioning session, Wilson walked out, was suspended, and later dismissed from the team. Chicago isn’t overly concerned. “He’s still a very young man so the chronological didn’t go too deep but we definitely did our due diligence and we felt at that point in the draft that person of this kind of talent deserves a second chance,” stated Emery. “His biggest sin is he walked out. He made a young-decision, again he’s just 20 – he’s going to be 20 this fall. We felt very comfortable that this was a good person who made an immature decision. He’s owned up to that decision. He’s ready to roll. We’re very excited he’s with the Chicago Bears.”

With the draft in the rear view mirror, Emery and the Bears front office staff began signing college undrafted free agents. In his post draft press conference, he also said there are a few veteran players he’d still like to add to the mix.  The Bears failed to draft a quarterback, leaving only journeyman Josh McCown and untested second-year

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man Matt Blanchard on the roster currently to backup Jay Cutler. “Obviously, you’re always excited that there’s another draft behind this one and you’re excited that there’s other ways to accumulate players. There’s still a lot of players out there in the UFA market. There will be players that are on cut down lists that you will be able to add to your squad as we did last year. There will be players that you will be able to trade for as we did with Sherrick (McManis) last year and was a big assist. In terms of not accomplishing, we felt very good about what we accomplished and again, we will never stop working on our roster.”

Paw Prints: The Bears will hold their rookie free agent minicamp in two weeks.

Chicago Bears 2013 Draft Picks:
Round 1 Kyle Long G Oregon
Round 2 Jon Bostic LB Florida
Round 4 Khaseem Greene LB Rutgers
Round 5 Jordan Mills T Louisiana Tech
Round 6 Cornelius Washington DE Georgia
Round 7 Marquess Wilson WR Washington St.

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