Bears third-round pick Bullard fills D-line need

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • Defensive line was arguably the Bears' biggest need going into the draft, and they addressed that area with their third-round pick, taking Florida's Jonathan Bullard 72nd overall.

    Defensive line was arguably the Bears' biggest need going into the draft, and they addressed that area with their third-round pick, taking Florida's Jonathan Bullard 72nd overall. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/29/2016 11:07 PM

Defensive line was arguably the Bears' biggest need going into the draft, and they addressed that area with their third-round pick, taking Florida's Jonathan Bullard 72nd overall.

The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Bullard started 36 career games with multiple starts at nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end. He will play 5-technique defensive end in the Bears' 3-4 base but can move inside to 3-technique tackle in four-man nickel fronts.

 

Bullard plays with power and the ability to absorb blocks and stack the run. He is not considered a gifted pass rusher but has the strength to move blockers back off the line of scrimmage and can control offensive linemen and set the edge.

Bullard, who was highly recruited out of Shelby, N.C., by several of the top programs in the country, had just 12 career sacks, but 6½ came last season, when he also had 17½ tackles for loss. He considered leaving school a year ago but was told by the NFL's draft advisory board that he'd be a late-round pick.

"The NFL told me to come back, so I kind of used that as a chip on my shoulder to go out and prove that I was a highly talented guy," he said. "I felt like I deserved to go higher. This year I felt the same. I waited longer than I expected.

"But I feel like I landed in a good place, and I'm excited to go out and prove people wrong again. Sometimes that's not always a bad thing to have that chip."

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Mr. Quick:

GM Ryan Pace loves third-round pick Jonathan Bullard's versatility along the defensive line but more importantly the inherent athleticism he brings to the field, specifically a quick first step.

"There's one thing you can't coach is get-off," Pace said. "His get-off is excellent. He's just a twitchy athlete for a guy that size. And that quick twitch is something you either have or you don't have, and he's got it."

On guard:

Second-round pick Cody Whitehair started games at every O-line position except center at Kansas State, and he might be able to provide depth there as well, but he feels most comfortable at guard.

"I'm not the tallest guy but I feel like I can make it up with some quickness," The 6-foot-4, 301-pound Whitehair said. "I just feel that guard is a better fit for me."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

GM Ryan Pace believes Whitehair checks most of the boxes when it comes to offensive linemen.

"This is what you're looking for in an offensive lineman," Pace said. "He's smart. He's tough. He's instinctive. He loves the weight room. Those are all things that I like."

Two cents' worth:

It's more than likely coach John Fox probably had strong input into the decision to move up two spots to get pass-rusher Leonard Floyd ninth overall.

"He's been pounding the table to add these kind of guys for awhile," Pace said. "We talk during the season, (and he says) 'Hey, Ryan, we gotta get off the field on third down.'

"We needed guys to help us in that area, and this is the type of player that can help that, add a major pass-rush threat to our defense."

• Follow Bob's Bears reports on Twitter @BobLeGere.

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