Bears go small-school route on day three

Bears fourth-round pick, S Eddie Jackson, Alabama

Bears fourth-round pick, S Eddie Jackson, Alabama

With faith in his scouting department, Chicago Bears General Manager Ryan Pace targeted small-school players on the final day of the 2017 NFL Draft.

Sandwiched around the fourth-round pick of Alabama safety Eddie Jackson, the Bears sandwiched the selections of North Carolina A&T RB Tarik Cohen and Kutztown T Jordan Morgan.

The Bears started the day by moving up five spots, trading the No. 117 and 197 overall picks to the Los Angeles Rams for the fifth pick in the fourth round (No. 112 overall) and selected DE Eddie Jackson from Alabama, a two-time All-SEC performer.

With the 13th pick in the fourth round (No. 119 overall), the Bears selected RB Tarik (TA-reek) Cohen from North Carolina A&T. Tarik, a speedy 5-6, 176-pounder, became the first player to win MEAC Offensive Player of the Year honors three times.

Then with the third pick in the fifth round, the Bears selected 6-3, 309-pound OL Jordan Morgan from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania, who started all 43 games of his career.

Pace said he felt comfortable with the players chosen, whether they were from a household college program or a lower-level school. “Yeah, that’s a good question. I give credit to our scouts and our coaches and all of the work that we’ve done. There’s so much that goes into this and there’s so much knowledge gained on these players that makes John and I feel more comfortable when we’re making these decisions. So, whether it’s a one-year starter or a small school player or a guy coming off injury, we’ve thoroughly researched these things to feel good about them. I think in regards to the small school thing, we’ve all had players that we’ve been part of that and have been highly successful. I look at Jordan Morgan today and I hate to make comparisons to players, but we took a guy in New Orleans, Jahri Evans, who ended up being a great player from Bloomsburg. So, I think you believe what you see on tape. You have conviction on players. I’ve said this before that I feel like when we have a consensus in the building on a player, those decisions are fun to make and exciting to make and I’m really excited to see what some of these guys do on this stage, because we’re confident in their abilities.”

Jackson, a 6-0, 194-pounder from Lauderdale Lakes, Florida, owns the Alabama record for career interception return yards with 303 on nine interceptions. He was a first team All-SEC selection and a second team All-American in 2015 after making the transition to safety. He led the team in interceptions that year with six, two of which he returned for touchdowns. He then earned second team All-SEC honors last season despite playing in only eight games before suffering an injury.

Cohen, nicknamed “The Human Joystick”,  helped lead the Aggies to a 9-3 regular-season record in 2016 and a berth in the FCS Playoffs. His 2016 campaign was a record-breaking one. He set single-season school records in rushing (1,588) and touchdowns (19) and earned All-America honors from four different outlets. Cohen leaves college as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s all-time leading rusher with 5,619 yards and its first three-time offensive player of the year. The Slant…NFL Draft Guide shared this perspective:

A two-time little All-America first team selection, Morgan started all 43 games in his Golden Bear career at Kutztown. This season he was became the first offensive lineman in PSAC history to be named PSAC East Offensive Athlete of the Year.

Capsules of the three Bears Saturday draftees follow:

Eddie Jackson Bio (courtesy of Alabama media relations)

2016 (Senior)

Selected as one of the Crimson Tide’s permanent team captains for the 2016 season … earned second team All-SEC honors from the conference coaches, despite playing in only eight games … midseason All-American by CBS, ESPN and USA Today … suffered a season-ending leg injury against Texas A&M … owns the Alabama record for career interception return yards with 303 across nine picks … had one of the Tide’s pick-sixes on the season, returning a WKU pass for a score in the home opener  to mark the third of his career and tie the Alabama all-time career record for interception returns for scores … registered 24 total tackles and two pass breakups to go with his interception … named SEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Week after his outing at Ole Miss … earned UA coaches’ defensive player of the week honors for the Western Kentucky matchup and special teams player of the week recognition for his performances at Ole Miss and Tennessee. USC: Finished his night with two tackles and one pass breakup … helped limit the Trojans to only 130 yards through the air. Western Kentucky: Recorded his third career pick-six with a return of 55 yards … his three scores on interceptions ties the Alabama career mark … also added one pass breakup and four tackles against the Hilltoppers … helped limit the WKU offense to 216 yards through the air. Ole Miss: Saw his first time at punt returner, taking the first punt he saw back for an 85-yard touchdown score with 1:05 remaining in the first half … finished with a pair of punt returns for 95 yards on the day … also added two tackles, including half a stop for loss (-1 yard) … his punt return for a score was one of the Tide’s three non-offensive touchdowns on the afternoon. Kent State: Notched a pair of tackles in one half of play … helped limit the Golden Flashes to only 84 yards receiving. Kentucky: Made four stops on the night, including one for a loss (-3 yards) … helped limit the Wildcat offense to 89 yards passing by night’s end. Arkansas: Finished with a season-high tying four tackles against the Razorbacks … also returned a pair of punts for 12 yards with a long of nine. Tennessee:  Excelled on both special teams and defense … returned four punts for 108 yards, taking back a 79-yard boot for a touchdown, his second punt return for a score on the season … added three tackles on defense, including one for loss (-3 yards) … helped limit the Volunteer offense to 163 total yards on the night. Texas A&M: Suffered a season-ending leg injury on his second punt return of the day against the Aggies … finished with three tackles and two punt returns for 21 yards before the injury.

2015 (Junior)

Made the transition to safety in the spring of 2015 and excelled in his new role … selected to the All-SEC First Team by the conference coaches and Associated Press … earned second team All-America honors from Walter Camp and the FWAA … named a third team All-American by the Associated Press … led the team in interceptions with six — two picks returned for touchdowns, a forced fumble and fumble recovery to go with his 46 tackles from the starting safety spot … accumulated 230 return yards on his interceptions, shattering the previous all-time record of 163 by Hootie Ingram in 1952 across Ingram’s 10 interceptions … finished tied for seventh nationally and as the SEC leader for interceptions … earned FWAA National Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance at Texas A&M … one of 16 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award … Wisconsin: Made his first start at safety, recording six unassisted tackles and the team’s first interception of the season with a return of 41 yards. Middle Tennessee: had three tackles and a forced fumble … also recorded a fumble recovery to account for one of the Tide’s season-high four turnovers. Ole Miss: Tallied five tackles, including a half tackle for a loss of one yard. Georgia: Recorded his first career interception return for a touchdown, picking off the Bulldog quarterback and returning the pass 50 yards for the score … the pick-six was the Tide’s first since 2013 … anchored a Tide secondary that limited UGA to 106 yards passing. Arkansas: Picked off his team-high third pass of the season returning it for 20 yards … also added three tackles by night’s end. Texas A&M: Picked off two Aggie passes for 119 yards and a score … his return yardage total was an Alabama all-time mark, surpassing Mark McMillian’s 98 from 1991 … notched returns of 26 and 93 yards, with the 93 yarder going for a score and marking the third-longest pick-six in UA history … also added two tackles and two pass breakups to his career day … was key in helping limit the A&M offense to a season-low 23 points. Tennessee: Recorded three tackles in limited action … suffered a right knee injury after running into a UT offensive lineman … injury sidelined him for nearly two quarters. LSU: Finished with two tackles on the day, including one for a loss (-5 yards) … helped limit the Tigers to 128 yards passing and only six completions. Mississippi State: Third on the team in tackles with seven total stops, including three solos. Charleston Southern: Started and made one assisted tackle against CSU … helped limit the Buccaneers to 49 yards passing. Auburn: Made two solo tackles with one tackle for loss (-6 yards) … helped thwart the Auburn passing game and limit the Tigers to just 169 yards through the air. Florida: Helped limit the Gators to just 15 yards rushing and 180 total yards … had one tackle as the Tide only allowed Florida to complete only 37.5 percent of its passes. Michigan State: Totaled three tackles against the Spartans … helped force the Spartan quarterback into two interceptions and a 19-for-32 day with his coverage in the secondary. Clemson: Earned Defensive MVP honors after his standout day against the Tigers … hauled in his team-leading sixth interception of the season … jumped a route to pick off Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson early in the second quarter.

2014 (Sophomore)

Penciled in to be a starter at cornerback before tearing his ACL in spring practice … returned to game action on Sept. 6 against FAU and started 10 of 11 games at cornerback, including nine straight … registered 41 total tackles, including two for loss (-12 yards), one sack (-11 yards), an interception (18 yards), six pass breakups, one recovered fumble (16 yards) and two forced fumbles … earned Alabama Defensive Player of the Week honors after the FAU and Mississippi State games. FAU: Tied for second on the team with four tackles … three of his tackles were solo, including one for a loss of a yard … also forced one fumble. Southern Miss: Had one solo stop against the Golden Eagles. Arkansas: Started and made six solo tackles … added a sack (-11 yards). Texas A&M: Made this fourth start of the season and recorded two tackles in just over a half of action in a 59-0 win over the Aggies where the Tide limited the SEC’s top-ranked offense to just 172 yards. Tennessee: Recorded four solo tackles in Knoxville … picked up a Volunteer fumble and returned it 16 yards to set up the Crimson Tide’s fourth touchdown of the first half. LSU: Picked off his first pass of the season and returned it 18 yards to position Alabama for a field goal at the end of the first half … finished with five tackles, three solo, and his first pass breakup of the season. Mississippi State: Recorded a season-high seven tackles and a career-best three pass breakups against the No. 1 Bulldogs. Auburn: Made five tackles with three solo stops against the Tigers. Missouri: Broke up a pass and made three total tackles with two solo stops in a 42-13 win over the Tigers to secure the SEC Championship. Ohio State: Started and made four solo tackles … forced a fumble that set up a Crimson Tide touchdown and broke up one pass.

2013 (Freshman)

Started four games at cornerback as a true freshman for Alabama and played in seven contests … finished with 19 tackles, including 16 solo stops and one tackle for loss (3 yards) … added an interception, a quarterback hurry and three pass breakups … returned a fumble 35 yards against Chattanooga … named a Special Teams Player of the Week by the Alabama coaching staff after the Arkansas game. Colorado State: Started against the Rams, with Deion Belue sidelined by a toe injury. Ole Miss: Started for the second straight week and played well against the Rebels high-powered offense … helped the Tide post a shutout (25-0) … made four tackles with three solo stops … made his first career interception and broke up two other passes … added a tackle for loss of three yards. Georgia State: Made two tackles and added a quarterback hurry as part of the Tide’s first-team defense. Arkansas: Came off the bench as a reserve cornerback and earned Special Teams Player of the Week honors by the coaching staff … had two solo tackles and recovered a fumble on kickoff coverage. Tennessee: Recorded one solo tackle at cornerback in the fourth quarter. Chattanooga: Came off the bench to see reps at cornerback … recovered a fumble and returned it 35 yards. Oklahoma: Returned to the starting lineup at cornerback and made 10 tackles – nine solo – against the Sooners in the Sugar Bowl.

Career Stats       

Year      G-S     TT      UT     AT        TFL       QBH     Sacks FF       FR       PBU      INT

2013     7-4      19      16      3           1-3        1            0-0        0          2          3            1-0

2014     11-11 41      32      9           2-12      0            1-11      2          1          7            1-18

2015     15-15 46      34      12         3-12      0            0-0        1          1          2            6-230

2016     8-8      24      15      9           2.5-7     0            0-0        0          0          2            1-55

Total     41-38 130    97      33         8.5-34   1            1-11      3          4          14          9-303

Career Punt Return Stats

Year      G         No.    Yards             Avg.      TD         LP

2016     5          11      253                 23.0      2            85

Tarik Cohen Bio (courtesy of North Carolina A&T media relations)

2016 (Senior)

Started all 12 games … 2016 NCAA FCS and Walter Camp First Team All-America … helped lead the Aggies to a 9-3 regular-season record and a berth in the FCS Playoffs … enjoyed a record-breaking campaign, setting single-season school records in rushing (1,588) and touchdowns (19) and earned All-America status from four different outlets … also rushed for more than 200 yards in four different games … leaves as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s all-time leading rusher with 5,619 yards and its first three-time Offensive Player of the Year (2014, 2015, 2016) … finished his career with five three-TD performances.

2015 (Junior)
Started all 12 games … had a MEAC-leading 1,543 yards rushing on a school-record 264 carries … his single-season rushing total was also a school record … rushed for 15 touchdowns, tying his single-season record from the season before … also caught 25 passes for 217 yards … led the MEAC in total points scored, rushing touchdowns and all-purpose yards (148.8) … rushed for more than 100 yards nine times and rushed for a career-high 295 yards and three touchdowns in A&T’s 41-34 win over Alcorn State in the inaugural Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl … came into the game needing 239 yards to break the single-season record before his historic performance … only FBS North Carolina, Elon and S.C. State, the No. 1 defense in FCS football, prevented Cohen from rushing for 100 yards … rushed for 132 yards in a 27-6 win over Delaware State and in the process, became the Aggies all-time leading rusher with a 28-yard run in the first quarter … rushed for 137 yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in a 65-14 Homecoming win over Howard on Oct. 24 … had his second-best rushing performance of the season with 152 yards and a touchdown on a season-high 36 carries in a 27-3 win at Norfolk State.

2014 (Sophomore)

Played in 11 games with 11 starts … his 1,340 rushing yards were the second-highest single-season total in school history … his 15 touchdowns were tied for the second-highest single-season total in school history … also caught 25 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown … ranked third in the country in yards per carry (6.8), 11th in rushing yards per game (121.8), 15th in total rushing yards and 15th in rushing TDs … led the MEAC in rushing, scoring (96 points), total touchdowns (16) and was second in all-purpose yards (143.4 per game) … rushed for more than 100 yards seven times and rushed for more than 200 yards twice … had two three-touchdown games, one in a 59-0 win over Chowan on Sept. 20 and the other at Savannah State on Nov. 15 in a 34-0 … opened the season by rushing for 161 yards and two touchdowns on only 10 carries in a 47-13 win over Alabama A&M in the MEAC/SWAC Challenge in Orlando on Aug. 31 … earned MEAC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts … posted 133 yards and a touchdown against nationally-ranked Coastal Carolina in a 31-30 loss at Aggie Stadium … surpassed 100 yards for the third straight week when he rushed for a career-best 234 yards and a touchdown, including an 81-yard touchdown run in a 17-12 win at Elon on Sept. 13 … earned MEAC Player of the Week for his efforts … had 236 all-purpose yards (155 rushing, 81 receiving) in a 31-14 win over Hampton in an ESPNU nationally-televised game at Aggie Stadium on Oct. 9 … also had two touchdowns in the game (one receiving and one rushing) … Recorded his third-career 200-yard rushing  game when he had 203 and two touchdowns on 20 carries in a 21-14 loss at N.C. Central.

2013 (Freshman)

MEAC Rookie of the Year … Played in 11 games with six starts…Had a MEAC-leading 1,148 yards rushing on 195 carries…Led the MEAC in average per carry (5.9) and scored eight rushing touchdowns on the season…Averaged a conference-leading 104.4 yards per game as well …Had five 100-yard games on the season, including one 200-yard game…Also made 11 receptions for 152 yards and a touchdown…Ranked second in the MEAC in all-purpose yards per game (118.2 ypg)…Registered 1,300 yards of all-purpose yards during the season…Ranked 17th in the nation in rushing, 44th in all-purpose yards, 26th in total rushing yards and 62nd in rushing touchdowns…Rushed for 180 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown in the Aggies 31-26 loss to Hampton on Oct. 12…In the same game, made three receptions for 119 yards and scored on an 81-yard touchdown pass from Lewis Kindle…His 299 yards in all-purpose yards in the game was the 16th-best total in the nation in 2013, and his 81-yard TD reception was the 26th longest…Earned MEAC Player of the Week honors for his efforts…Earned MEAC Player of the Week honors again two weeks later when he ran for 210 yards and three touchdowns on 32 carries, including the game winning 8-yard overtime touchdown in the Aggies 20-13 win at Florida A&M on Oct. 26…It was the 27th-best rushing performance in FCS in 2013 and the 11th best in school history…Earned MEAC Rookie of the Week honors after rushing for 130 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries in a 59-12 win over Virginia University Lynchburg on Nov. 2…Picked up the honor again the next week with an 185-yard, one touchdown, 31-carry performance at Morgan State on Nov. 9/

Career Stats

Year        G          Rush      Yds           Yd/Rush      TDs           Rec           Yds          Yd/Rec     TDs

2013        11         195         1148         5.9                8                 11              152          13.8          1

2014        11         197         1340         6.8                15              25              237          9.5             1

2015        12         264         1543         5.8                15              25              217          8.7             0

2016        12         212         1588         7.5                18              37              339          9.2             1

Career    46         868         5619         6.5                56              98              945          9.6             3

Career Return Stats

Year        G          PR           Yds           Avg              TDs           KR             Yds          Avg           TDs

2013        11         0              4                -                    0                 0                0               – 0              0

2015        12         0              0                -                    0                 1                26             26.0          0

2016        12         1              0                0.0                0                 0                0               – 0              0

Career    46         1              4                4.0                0                 1                26             26.0          0

 

Jordan Morgan Bio (courtesy Kutztown University media relations)

2016 (Senior)

The First Team All-America offensive lineman started in all 11 games for KU in his redshirt-senior season … blocked in KU’s record-setting game against East Stroudsburg where the offense broke the school-record for rushing yards with 459 … started all 43 of his appearances in the last four seasons, continuously making a huge impact on the offensive line and racking up several accolades during his Golden Bear career … became the first offensive lineman in PSAC history to be named PSAC East Offensive Athlete of the Year … was named to the PSAC East First Team for the third consecutive season and became the first Golden Bear in program history to win the Gene Upshaw Award, which is given to the top lineman in Division II … All-Region First Team … named Preseason All-American by Sporting News, Lindy’s magazine and D2Football.com.

2015 (Junior)

D2Football.com All-America First Team selection … named to the Don Hansen Gazette All-Region Third Team … named to the AP Little All-America First Team, KU’s first First Team selection since 1995, and the AFCA All-America Team, the first Golden Bear to do so since 1997 … earned his second straight All-PSAC East First Team honor … started in all 11 games for KU in his redshirt-junior season … named to the 2015 Lindy’s Sports Preseason All-Division II First Team and the D2Football.com Preseason All-America Second Team.

2014 (Sophmore)

Named to the D2Football.com All-America honorable mention team … started in all 10 of his appearances for the Golden Bears during his redshirt sophomore season … named to the All-PSAC East First Team.

2013 (Freshman)

Started in all 11 games for the Golden Bears at left tackle.

More Draft Notes in Bears Tracks:

• The Bears started the day by moving up five spots, trading the No. 117 and 197 overall picks to the Los Angeles Rams for the fifth pick in the fourth round (No. 112
overall) and selected DB Eddie Jackson from Alabama.
• With the 13th pick in the fourth round (No. 119 overall), the Bears selected RB Tarik Cohen from North Carolina A&T.
• With the third pick in the fifth round, the Bears selected OL Jordan Morgan from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania.
• Jackson is the 11th Alabama player to be selected by the Bears in franchise history. Cohen and Morgan are the first players to be selected by the Bears from their
respective schools.
• The Bears have selected a running back in each of the past four drafts. Prior to 2014, the Bears had not drafted a running back since 2008 (Matt Forte).
• This year’s draft is the first time since 2002 the Bears have taken three non-FBS players (Shaheen/Ashland, Cohen/NC A&T, Morgan/Kutztown), according to ESPN
Stats & Information. In 2002, Chicago chose wide receiver Jamin Elliott (Delaware – FCS), running back Adrian Peterson (Georgia Southern – FCS) and cornerback
Roosevelt Williams (Tuskegee-DII).
• With four offensive and one defensive player (Jackson) selected, it marks the first time since the 2002 draft the Bears drafted only one defensive player.
• Pace has now made seven draft day trades, four coming last season, one Thursday, one Friday and one Saturday. Pace’s four trades made during the draft last
season were the most by the team since 2000.
• Through three full drafts, Pace has selected 20 total players, 11 on offense and nine on defense.
BEARS PICKS IN THE 2017 DRAFT
Round No. Name Pos. College
1st 2 Mitchell Trubisky QB North Carolina
2nd 45 Adam Shaheen TE Ashland
4th 112 Eddie Jackson DB Alabama
4th 119 Tarik Cohen RB North Carolina A&T
5th 147 Jordan Morgan OL Kutztown (PA)
BEARS TRADES IN THE 2017 DRAFT
Date Trade
Thursday (4/27) Traded the No. 3, 67 and 111 overall pick and a 2018 third-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for its No. 2 overall pick.
Friday (4/28) Traded the No. 36 and No. 221 overall picks to the Arizona Cardinals for the No. 45, 119 and 197 overall

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