Whitehair pick may mean Slauson's days numbered
After trading down twice in the second round, the Bears finally made a pick, drafting Kansas State guard Cody Whitehair with the 56th overall selection.
Whitehair was considered by many draft analysts to be the top guard in this year's class. He started 13 games at left tackle last year, but he's expected to play guard in the NFL, where he started most of his first three seasons at Kansas State.
The 6-foot-4, 301-pound Whitehair moved into the starting lineup as a freshman and started a total of 51 games.
Thirty-five of his starts came at left guard, two at right guard and one at right tackle.
Although some draft analysts had him projected as a late-first-round pick, the All-Big 12 and Academic All-Big-12 pick said he wasn't overly concerned with his late-second-round selection.
"I was pretty open-minded," he said. "I'm just so thankful the Bears took me. I can't wait to get on the field and make great relationships with these new teammates. I'm not really disappointed at all, just really excited to be a Bear now."
The selection of Whitehair, combined with the off-season signings of veteran interior offensive linemen Ted Larsen and Manny Ramirez, seems to cast doubt on the future of seven-year veteran Matt Slauson. The 6-foot-5, 315-pound Slauson has been a starter, when healthy, since he was acquired in free agency in 2013.
The Bears also added veteran right tackle Bobby Massie in the off-season, ostensibly for the purpose of moving 2013 first-round draft pick Kyle Long back to right guard after he filled in at right tackle last season.
Whitehair hasn't gotten an indication yet from the Bears where they will play him, but his short arms (32⅜ inches) probably rule out playing tackle.
"We didn't go over that," the Abilene, Kansas native said. "(Offensive line) coach (Dave) Magazu just said, 'Make sure you're ready to play.' That's what I'm going to do, play wherever the coaches need me to play and I'm just excited to get on the field."
Whitehair never missed a game at Kansas State and he has exceptional foot quickness, balance and agility. His 4.58-second 20-yard shuttle and 7.32-second 3-cone times were second best among offensive linemen at the Scouting Combine.
One of the few knocks on Whitehair was his performance on the bench press where he did just 16 repetitions of 225 pounds.
"I just think that that wasn't me," he said. "I just had a bad day of performance, but I'm more of a field-strong kind of guy. I'll just continue to work on that and continue to get better at that."
The Bears began the day with the 41st overall selection but traded down eight spots, getting the Buffalo Bills' 49th pick in addition to their fourth-rounder this year (117th overall) and a fourth-rounder next year. The Bears then moved down another seven spots in a swap with Seattle that also netted them the Seahawks' fourth-round pick (124th overall) this year. The Bears will have three fourth-round picks when the draft resumes today.