The Bears picked Florida linebacker Jonathan Bostic in the second round of the NFL draft with the 50th overall pick Friday, moving to shore up a position that will be without veteran Brian Urlacher next season.
Bostic started every game his final two years in the middle for Florida and figures to compete with veteran free agent acquisition D.J. Williams for the spot Urlacher played 13 seasons before he and the team failed to reach a contract agreement in March.
"I've got to say that I have a preference overall toward SEC football players so my feet were just a little bit off the ground," Bears general manager Phil Emery said, expressing delight with the selection. "The competition they face daily in practice and weekly in the league is at the highest level. So to get a linebacker out of there that is a very dynamic and fast athlete is a good feeling."
Williams, a former Denver Bronco, played middle linebacker in the team's April minicamp and is coming off a season marred by suspensions.
Bostic made eight sacks, 19 1/2 tackles for loss and five interceptions in his four-year Florida career. He ran a 4.6-second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine and bench-pressed 225 pounds 22 times.
Emery sees Bostic as a future starter, if not an immediate one.
"The reason we like Jon is he's a three-position player, a three-position linebacker," Emery said. "I felt it was very important that if we were going to take a linebacker in the second round that we get somebody that could immediately fill in at all three spots, if one of our current starters was not available due to injury that he could fill in immediately and we would have a good football player in place right now."
Fitting in as a possible Urlacher replacement will be a challenge, Bostic said.
"I know they have a great tradition of linebackers, especially the two they had this year -- especially the one they had that played mike (middle)," Bostic said, referring to Urlacher and Lance Briggs. "You can sit here and name plenty of them. But obviously to play in Chicago is going to take a lot of work."
Bostic said there's no added pressure following Urlacher.
"It's not pressure," he said. "It's more a guy I can pretty much watch and learn a lot of things from on film."
Bostic came to Florida as a cornerback/safety who had been slated to play weakside linebacker, but moved to the middle when the Gators brought in Jelani Jenkins. When the Bears drafted several other options at linebacker remained, but Emery said he found three things he liked better about Bostic than the others available.
"One is intelligence," Emery said. "He's a guy that can line up others. We felt very good about his football aptitude and his ability to line people up on the field. Two is he's fast -- he's one of the fastest linebackers in the class. And three was his positional flexibility. And I'll go four: special teams."
Bostic made it 2-for-2 for the Bears in the draft in terms of sons of former NFL players. He is the son of former Detroit Lions defensive back Jon Bostic, who played in 29 games for Detroit from 1985-87.
The Bears had drafted the son of another former NFL player in Round 1 when they took Kyle Long, the son of Raiders hall of famer Howie Long.
The selection of Long and Bostic leaves the Bears still looking to address several needs, including cornerback. But the team traded away its third-round pick last year for wide receiver Brandon Marshall and, barring trade, does not select again until Round 4.
Emery said the team had a few opportunities to acquire a third-round pick through trade, but none he considered serious.
"The only way we could do it was give up next year's (second-rounder)," he said. "That doesn't make sense to us."