Phil Emery isn’t predicting second-round pick Jonathan Bostic — who the Bears took Friday in the second round of the NFL draft — will be a Day One starter.
But the Bears’ general manager believes the 6-foot-1, 245-pound Florida linebacker has the versatility, athleticism and intelligence to step in as the starter at any of the three linebacker spots sooner rather than later.
That’s a comforting thought, considering seven-time Pro Bowl weak-side linebacker Lance Briggs will turn 33 this season. Free agents D.J. Williams and James Anderson, the new starters in the middle and on the strong side, respectively, both have one-year contracts.
“The reason we like Jon (is) he’s a three-position linebacker,” Emery said. “We felt that it was very important that if we were going to take a linebacker in the second round, that we get somebody who could immediately fill in (at) all three spots; that we would have a good football player in place right now.
“Obviously he’ll be given an opportunity to earn a starting job. We see him as a future starter.”
Bostic enrolled at Florida a semester early, as a weak-side linebacker, but he wound up getting all 32 of his starts, including 26 over the past two seasons, at middle linebacker.
Bostic says he’s fine at any of the LB spots.
“It really doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I went to college (having played) corner and safety and I knew I was going to be a linebacker going in. I went to college to play Will (weak-side linebacker).
“But (coaches) slid me over to Mike (middle linebacker). It was kind of just natural for me. Linebacker is linebacker. It’s just where you line up, so it’s not really that big of a difference to me.”
At the very least, Emery expects Bostic to be a core special teams player as a rookie and to also make a contribution on defense.
After the Chargers made Manti Te’o the first linebacker taken in the second round (38th overall), linebackers Kevin Minter and Kiko Alonso were taken at 45 and 46 before the Bears grabbed Bostic at 50. The Patriots took LB Jamie Collins two picks later.
Emery preferred Bostic to those taken in the same vicinity for several reasons.
“One is intelligence,” the Bears’ GM said. “He’s a guy that can line up others. We brought him in for a visit, we felt very good about his football aptitude and his ability to line everybody else up on the field. Two, he’s fast. He’s one of the fastest linebackers in the class. Three, was his positional flexibility, and four, special teams. He fit the bill.”
Like first-round pick Kyle Long, Bostic has exceptional athleticism. He ran a 4.61 40 and a 4.24-second 20-yard shuttle at the Combine, among the fastest times for all linebackers.
Also like Long, Bostic has NFL bloodlines. His father, Jon Bostic, played defensive back for the Lions from 1985-87.Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.