Chicago Bears don't have to look for for D-line help
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Chicago Bears don't have to use the third overall pick in the NFL draft on Alabama stud Jonathan Allen, as many analysts are predicting, to upgrade their defensive line.
They could wait until their pick in Round 2 (36th overall) and take Montini's Jaleel Johnson, who improved noticeably in each of his four years at Iowa.
Or they could wait a little longer and tab Marmion Academy's Ryan Glasgow, who started as a walk-on at Michigan but wound up starting 33 games while also performing better each season.
Johnson grew up in a sketchy section of Brooklyn before his parents sent him to live with an aunt in the Chicago area, and he began his high school career at St. Joseph in Westchester.
"Every team has asked me that same question," Johnson said at the NFL Scouting Combine when asked about his migration west. "The neighborhood and the high school I was going to go to in New York weren't as good as the ones I went to in (the Chicago suburbs). It was something I wanted to do. It was something my mother and father wanted (me) to do, and I did it."
Johnson transferred to Montini for his senior season and played on the Broncos' 2011 state championship team.
"St. Joseph at the time wasn't really a football program," Johnson said. "It was more basketball and soccer. I felt like if I really wanted to move on as a football player, I needed more of a challenge. When I looked around for a different program that had good football, I came across Montini Catholic, which has won multiple championships (six in the past 13 years).
"I called the head coach (Chris Andriano). The head coach at St. Joseph (Mark Zaragnin) made some phone calls, and everything fell into place."
It was a similar scenario at Iowa, where Johnson redshirted, then saw scant action in his next two seasons but started 27 games in his final two seasons. He had 7½ of his 12 career sacks as a senior, but he modestly says it wasn't just himself who improved as a pass rusher.
"Mainly it was what we did in the off-season," said the 6-foot-3 Johnson, who weighed in at 316 pounds at the combine. "As a unit, us four up front made it our jobs to work on pass rush.
"There was talk on whether Iowa's defensive line could rush the passer. We went into the season with a chip on our shoulders. Not just me, but the other three guys who were out there with me."
From his participation in the Senior Bowl, Johnson already has experience with the Bears' staff, which coached the North squad.
"It was a whole new world," Johnson said. "These guys are professional, and they move at a very, very fast pace. If you're slacking, they don't have room for any slackers."
The team that drafts the 6-3, 302-pound Glasgow won't have to worry about the Aurora native slacking off. His grinder mentality and toughness more than offset his lack of elite athleticism. Starting without a scholarship when he enrolled, Glasgow made purposeful strides each season in Ann Arbor.
"It's kind of viewed as an adverse situation," he said of his walk-on status. "It's a bad hand, I guess you could say. But all it's done is make me work harder and made me more grateful for this opportunity."
Like Johnson, Glasgow peaked as a senior when he had 42 tackles, nearly matching his total of 47 from the previous two years.
Glasgow's older brother Graham was a third-round pick of the Detroit Lions last season and wound up as a starting guard. He provided his younger brother with some tips to prepare for the nonstop evaluation process of the combine.
"(Graham) said it was going to be strenuous," Glasgow said. "He said it was going to be a stressful experience, so I tried to mentally prepare. But I don't think any amount of advice can really prepare you for the chaos that ensues."
But at least the younger brother got some positive feedback from coaches and scouts in Indianapolis.
"They like how hard I play," he said. "The effort I give, the way I stop the run and some of the things I can do in the pass game."
Glasgow only had 5 career sacks, but 4 came last season. He won't be a flashy NFL player, but he's a force against the run, and he brings a mentality that coaches love.
"I think there's a place for me," he said. "I think there's a place for the type of player I am and what I can do for a team and an organization. I'll find a spot, and I'll make it my home."
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