Bears go for linebacker, tackle on last draft day
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP)
The Chicago Bears knew they needed help at linebacker and on the offensive line, so it was no coincidence they doubled up their efforts at those spots on Saturday's final day of the NFL draft.
After drafting Oregon tackle Kyle Long in Round 1 on Thursday and Florida linebacker Jonathan Bostic on Friday in Round 2, they came back Saturday with Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene in Round 4 and Louisiana Tech offensive tackle Jordan Mills in the fifth round.
''The coincidence is that we saw high-value players, players we had high grades on that were available,'' general manager Phil Emery said. ''We felt very good about where we got them for the value that we got them at.''
The Bears then closed out the draft with Georgia defensive end Cornelius Washington in Round 6 and Washington State wide receiver Marquess Wilson in round seven with a pick they acquired via trade. Greene helps provide more depth at linebacker after middle linebacker Brian Urlacher did not come to terms with the Bears in negotiations and strong side linebacker Nick Roach left in free agency for Oakland.
''Khaseem has the flexibility to play the outside linebackers and create more competition with the guys that we have, certainly, and we're excited about that,'' Bears coach Marc Trestman said.
Greene, who is 6-foot-1, 241 pounds, converted from safety to outside linebacker in 2011 and set an NCAA record with 15 career forced fumbles.
''It's an amazing stat, 15 (forced fumbles) in a career,'' Emery said of Greene. ''That's difficult to do. Obviously, with the style of defense that we play, our eyebrows went up. Here's a guy that really fits what we're trying to do. We really feel comfortable with him in three positions, which we talked about with Jon Bostic.
Emery said he is the outside linebacker who can play inside, as well, while Bostic is the inside linebacker who can also play outside. Greene, who went to Chicago with the 117th overall pick, thinks his experience as a safety only benefited him at linebacker. Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano moved Greene to linebacker while at Rutgers.
''I think the most important thing it did for me was teach me the value of coverages, covering the slot, covering the tight ends and covering running backs once I moved to linebacker,'' Greene said. ''It was extremely easy for me to pick up covering running backs and anticipate what those guys were doing and what kind of moves they would moves they would be making and things like that.''
Mills, who will compete at right tackle for a job with Jonathan Scott and J'Marcus Webb, was chosen after the Bears dealt their 153rd overall pick to Atlanta for the 163rd pick and also an extra seventh-rounder, No. 235 overall. Mills, who is 6-foot-5 and 316 pounds, started all 25 games the last two seasons for Louisiana Tech at right tackle and is the cousin of Green Bay Packers defensive back Tramon Williams.
''Yes he is a Green Bay Packer and I'm going to see him twice a year,'' Mills said. ''And if I get back there and somebody breaks a long touchdown (run), if I can get close to him - that's my cousin and I love him - it's not going to be good for him.''
Washington, a 6-4, 265-pounder, had 10 1/2 sacks and 17 tackles for loss in four seasons for Georgia. He played linebacker and defensive end. Washington had an NFL combine-best 36 repetitions for linebackers in the bench press at 225 pounds. Washington said he played about 65 percent of the time at a down lineman spot for Georgia.
Some draft experts had called Washington a second- or third-rounder, and he was still wondering what happened after falling to the end of Round 6.
''Me and my agent both still are shocked now,'' he said. ''I had no idea what was going on. But I've got an opportunity and that's the most important thing.''
Wilson, a 6-2, 194-pounder who came out for the draft after his junior year, was Washington State's team MVP in 2011 and a team captain. In 2012 Wilson lost his starting job before the Stanford game, was suspended in November after he walked out of a conditioning session that he deemed too long, and then quit the team. He issued a statement accusing coach Mike Leach of ''physical, emotional and verbal abuse.''
Emery said the team did extensive background checks on Wilson.
''We felt at that point in the draft that a person of this kind of talent deserved a second chance,'' Emery said. ''His biggest sin is he walked out. He made a young decision. He's just 20. He's going to be 21 this fall. We felt very comfortable that this was a good person who made an immature decision.''
Bears rookies will be at Halas Hall for a three-day minicamp starting May 12.