The Bears continued to address their defense in the second round of the draft, taking LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson with the 51st pick on Friday.
The Chicago Bears continued to address their defense in the second round of the draft, taking LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson with the 51st pick on Friday.
The Bears have been busy retooling a unit that ranked among the league's worst in an effort to jump to the playoffs after missing out for the sixth time in seven years. They went 8-8 last season.
Chicago addressed the line in the second round after grabbing Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller with the 14th pick on Thursday. The Bears also had a third-round pick (No. 82) Friday along with a fourth-rounder (117), fifth-rounder (156) and two sixth-rounders (183 and 191) on Saturday. The Bears do not have a seventh-round pick.
The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Ferguson brings size and athleticism, but is also considered raw after leaving school a year early. He was suspended from the Outback Bowl against Iowa for violating team rules and did not work out at the NFL combine because of a right ankle injury he suffered in the days leading up to it.
Ferguson decided to turn pro because his mother Brenda injured her back breaking up a fight at a detention center where she works.
"At the end of the day, she wasn't able to work and I knew that my family needed me," he said.
Ferguson insisted the decision to leave school was his, that he felt no pressure to do so, and he said his mom is getting better. The Bears hope he can help turn around a defense that struggled in a big way last season.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes to win whenever it takes and however long it takes," he said. "I'm not going to stop."
When he visited the Bears, Ferguson said he talked at length with defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni. One thing Pasqualoni wanted to know was how comfortable Ferguson is playing head up over the guard, an indication that Chicago will mix up looks.
"We were basically talking ball for a long time, and he was asking me can I play the two technique," Ferguson said. "Can I do it? He said that's what they want me for, and he showed a lot of interest."
Chicago is overhauling its defense after it ranked 30th overall, last against the run and tied Jacksonville with a league-low 31 sacks. The Bears gave up 2,583 yards rushing on 5.3 per carry -- both club records -- and they still had plenty of holes to fill entering the draft even after a flurry of moves.
The headliner, of course, was letting Julius Peppers go and signing Jared Allen from Minnesota in what amounted to a swap of accomplished defensive ends. They also added defensive ends Lamarr Houston and Willie Young along with safeties Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings. They brought back cornerback Charles Tillman on a one-year deal, re-signed defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff to a two-year contract and split with safety Major Wright.
In some ways, all the activity is reminiscent of what they did a year ago, when they gave their offensive line a new look. If the results this time around are similar, the Bears will take that.
In Fuller, they believe they have a versatile cornerback who can contribute next season and move into a starting role.
Ferguson figures to back up Ratliff and Nate Collins assuming he's ready after missing most of last season with a knee injury and could push Stephen Paea for time. In his first year as a starter last season, Ferguson had 58 tackles. His main job was to occupy multiple blockers, creating chances for linebackers to make plays.
"I feel like I have a lot of upside," Ferguson said. "I feel like a lot of people didn't realize how athletic I was. My ability to move around out there (was better) than people thought it was. I just feel like I got a perfect opportunity with a perfect team, and I just want to make the best of it."