Arizona State defensive lineman Will Sutton was taken by the Bears in the third round with the 82nd overall pick of the NFL Draft on Friday, making him the first Sun Devil taken in this year’s draft and the first taken since 2012.
Sutton, an All-American and the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year the past two seasons, went about where draft services had projected he would and became ASU’s highest-drafted defensive lineman since Terrell Suggs was taken 10th overall in 2003.
"They’re getting a player who has a constant motor, who’s going to come to work everyday, who knows the game of football and gets in the film room and is just going to do what he’s told to do," Sutton said on a conference call with reporters Friday.
Also a two-time Morris Trophy winner as the Pac-12’s best defensive lineman, as voted on by conference offensive linemen, Sutton tallied 37 tackles for loss — including 17 sacks — the past two seasons. He saw his numbers drop in 2013 as opposing offenses double-teamed him on nearly every play.
Sutton’s selection by the Bears came as somewhat of a surprise, as the Bears also drafted LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson on Friday in the second round (51st overall).
"When Ego from LSU got drafted, I was like, ‘Man, it looks like I’m not gonna be a Bear,’" Sutton said. "But they went in and got me in the third round, so I bet they think us two could make a good tandem together."
Congrats to Will Sutton!! Bears got a steal and a great player! Forks up!
Sutton drew criticism last season for having added weight in the offseason and playing much of the year around 315 pounds. He has since dropped most of the weight he added, coming in recently at 290 pounds, slightly less than his playing weight at the end of his outstanding 2012 season.
"I was just getting information saying, ‘You’re too small for the NFL,’" Sutton said. "So I was just lifting, and they said it was bad. So I’ve been working to get the weight off, and I’m back down to where I was my junior season and I’m ready to show what type of football player I really am."
Ahead of the draft, evaluators also wondered about Sutton’s height and how his size would translate in the NFL. His work ethic and character have also been questioned, though ASU coach Todd Graham has defended him strongly.
In Chicago, Sutton joins a team that ranked 30th among 32 teams in total defense and last in rushing defense last season under first-year coach Marc Trestman. Sutton is not regarded as an elite run stopper but figures to give the Bears another pass-rushing threat. The Bears’ defensive line has seen notable turnover this offseason, as the team cut veteran Julius Peppers and signed free agents Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston.
In a bit of a surprise, ASU linebacker Carl Bradford slipped to the third day of the draft after being projected as high as the second round. Bradford chose to forgo his senior season at ASU after leading the Sun Devils in tackles for loss last season and reportedly getting a third-round draft grade.
Also still on the board after three rounds are ASU running back Marion Grice and Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey. Seven running backs were drafted Friday, including Washington’s Bishop Sankey as the first off the board as well as two from the FCS level.
The draft continues Saturday with the remaining four rounds.