Bears focus on help for Cutler despite needs on defense
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) With four offensive players out of six picks, this hardly seemed like a draft by the Monsters of the Midway.
Still, no one can accuse new Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace of straying from his board.
Facing a complete rebuild of one of the league’s worst defenses, and in a new 3-4 system, the Bears personnel boss ignored perceived need in his first draft and went with offensive players four times as the team chose to provide support for quarterback Jay Cutler.
”Our expectations are high for these guys,” Pace said. ”There’s a lot of opportunities in front of them. We had consensus on all these players.”
In Saturday’s fourth round, the Bears took Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford 106th overall after selecting wide receiver Kevin White in the first round Thursday and center Hroniss Grasu in the third round Friday. TCU tackle Tayo Fabuluje went to Chicago in Round 6.
”Best player available honestly all the way through for us,” Pace said heading into the final day, and it stayed that way.
Langford, a 6-foot, 208-pounder, ran for 1,522 yards and 22 touchdowns last season after rushing for 1,422 and 18 scores in 2013. He started out at Michigan State as a cornerback and receiver.
Starter Matt Forte is 29 years old and chose to skip the team’s voluntary minicamp this week to do speed and conditioning work on his own. Forte’s contract expires after this season and he wants an extension.
Langford’s playing style is similar to Forte’s in that he’s regarded as a strong receiver and pass blocker.
”I watch Matt Forte a lot,” Langford said. ”I feel like he does it all. He catches the ball out of the backfield very well. I learned a lot watching his film to be able to block linebackers.”
Langford recorded the fastest 40-yard dash time among running backs at the NFL combine, 4.43 seconds.
However, he agreed there were questions about his ability to run with power.
”Just running through tackles more and being able to break more tackles, and be stronger downfield and run through tackles, that’s pretty much what I heard a lot and I feel like that’s what I had to work on,” he said.
Although the Bears needed defensive help for their new 3-4 system, they also needed the offensive additions.
White replaces Brandon Marshall, who was dealt to the New York Jets. Grasu will compete with 32-year-old veteran free agent Will Montgomery at center after the team cut 35-year-old starter Roberto Garza.
The 6-7, 360-pound Fabuluje could challenge at right tackle, a problem spot for the Bears. He would need to control his weight, which has fluctuated between 310 and 360.
Fabuluje said he usually played around 330 but sometimes found it tough to maintain weight in Texas, where it’s, ”deep-fry this, sweet-tea that.”
He’s been described as a high-character type who quit college a year to work three jobs and support his sister after his mother went to prison on theft charges.
The Bears focused some on defense, getting Goldman as a potential nose tackle in the 3-4. Only 11-year veteran Jeremiah Ratliff was listed at the position prior to the draft.
In the fifth round, Chicago took Penn State free safety Adrian Amos, who had seven career interceptions. The Bears also picked safety Brock Vereen in Round 5 last year, and have veterans Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy in starting roles.
”I have experience playing the nickel position, the dime position, both safeties and both corners,” Amos said.
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