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NFL Team Report - Chicago Bears - INSIDE SLANT
The last time the Bears drafted a linebacker who was a converted safety -- as they did with this year's fourth-round pick Khaseem Greene -- it turned out pretty well.
In 2000 the Bears made New Mexico's Brian Urlacher the ninth overall pick and then watched him become the leading tackler in franchise history and an eight-time Pro Bowl pick.
Greene was selected 117th overall by general manager Phil Emery, who was clearly determined to infuse talent and youth into the linebacker that lost Urlacher, Nick Roach and Geno Hayes in the offseason. A day earlier, the Bears took Florida linebacker Jonathan Bostic with the 50th overall pick.
Bostic agreed to a four-year contract Thursday to become the fifth of the six Bears' draftees to sign.
He and former Denver Broncos' inside linebacker D.J. Williams are the primary competitors to start at middle linebacker in 2013. Bostic had 237 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks and five interceptions at Florida.
Unrestricted free agents D.J. Williams and James Anderson were added earlier in free agency, but both signed one-year deals, which didn't do enough for the long-term health of the position.
"Obviously we felt like we had to add to the group," Emery said. "We had to add players to the group. It worked out value-wise that those picks were linebackers. And we were happy that happened."
The 6-1, 241-pound Greene was the Big East defensive player of the year last season and shared that honor in 2011.
After leading Rutgers with three interceptions as a safety in 2010, Greene moved to weak-side linebacker and led the team in tackles in each of his last two seasons, a total of 277 hits. He also had 26 1/2 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in his two seasons at linebacker. His 15 career forced fumbles are an NCAA record.
"I don't give up on any plays," Greene said, "whether I'm in front of the guy and trying to put my face on the ball to cause a fumble or I'm chasing the guy and trying to strip him, or I'm coming in as second man in, third man in and stripping him.
"My mentality is I want to get the ball back, and I want to get it to my offense. That's my philosophy, creating takeaways. It's always instilled in my head. It's something that I worked on for the last five years at Rutgers, and I'm definitely going to still work on it going forward from here."
Greene did not receive high grades in athleticism from draft analysts. His 7.61-second time in the three-cone drill was mediocre, and critics believe that unless he gets stronger and better able to shed blocks he might be limited to playing on the weak side.
Emery preferred to focus on the positive aspects of Greene's play.
"In two years (at linebacker), look at what Khaseem has done," the Bears' general manager said. "Regardless of how you scout him, or if you see his strengths and weaknesses, look at the things you can't deny: athleticism, production, leadership, ability to change positions and be productive. Those are the things that turn us on."
Having made the move from the secondary to weak-side linebacker, Greene believes he could play any of the linebacker positions.
"I think I can play wherever I need to," he said. "Teams were telling me they like me on the inside in a 3-4 scheme, and some teams told me they liked me at Will (weak side) in a 4-3 scheme."
Greene believes his earlier experience at safety has helped him be a more complete linebacker.
"It taught me the value of coverages," he said. "Covering the slot, covering the tight ends, and then covering running backs once I moved to linebacker. It was extremely easy for me to pick up covering running backs and anticipate what those guys were doing and what kind of moves they would be making."
NFL Team Report - Chicago Bears - NOTES, QUOTES
-- Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman is using a helmet camera to help evaluate quarterbacks this weekend at the team's rookie minicamp.
The Chicago Tribune reported that a small camera was attached to the left side of quarterback Matt Blanchard's helmet on Friday during the Bears' first day of practice. The idea is to give coaches the same view the quarterback has when a play is developing and use that information to assess him.
Blanchard, who is actually a second-year player, is competing for the third quarterback spot on the roster behind starter Jay Cutler and backup Josh McCown.
--The Bears announced several organizational moves Saturday. Kevin Turks was promoted to director of pro personnel. He has been with the team for 11 years and was previously the assistant director of pro personnel.
Dwayne Joseph moved up to associate director of pro personnel. Joseph, who has been with the Bears the last seven years, was an assistant director of pro personnel.
The team hired Ryan Kessenich as scout/player personnel, Jay Muraco as East Coast scout and Andre Odom as a scouting assistant). Kessenich and Muraco were previously area scouts with the Kansas City Chiefs. Odom spent the last two years at Temple in player development.
The Bears also promoted Breck Ackley to South Central area scout, David Williams to scout/player personnel and Sam Summerville to Southeast area scout.
--Louisiana Tech offensive tackle Jordan Mills, the Bears' fifth-round draft pick, is close with his cousin, Packers cornerback Tramon Williams. But Mills said that won't matter if they run into each other on the field.
"I'm going to see him twice a year," Mills said. "If somebody breaks a run or a long touchdown, if I even get close to him -- that's my cousin, and I love him -- but it's not going to be good for him."
Mills started 29 games at right tackle, including all 25 the past two seasons, and that's where he fits on the Bears. But J'Marcus Webb and Jonathan Scott are both ahead of him on the depth chart.
"I know they just got the tackle from New Orleans, (Jermon) Bushrod, on the left side, me on the right side, that's going to be an offensive line to reckon with. And with Kyle Long also, it's going to be a good offensive line.
"I will try to soak up all the knowledge I can from those guys."
With Long, Mills and UFA's Bushrod and Matt Slauson, intense competition is expected on the offensive line.
"Isn't competition wonderful?" general manager Phil Emery said. "Competition makes you better, and that's what we're excited about. It's a little bit of a re-do in terms of adding new people to the mix. We feel very good about the kind of response we'll get from the veterans."
--Anyway the Bears want to spin it, seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson is a character concern after quitting the Washington State team last season and accusing coach Mike Leach and his staff of "abuse," which he later recanted.
Coach Marc Trestman called it "a very small mistake," and the Bears did a lot of work checking into Wilson's background.
"We definitely did our due diligence," Emery said. "We felt that, at the point in the draft, that a person of this kind of talent deserved a second chance."
There is no denying Wilson's talent, and there's no such thing as a seventh-round bust, so, bottom line, it's a good gamble by the Bears.
Even though he played just nine games before leaving last season, Wilson led the Cougars with 52 catches and 813 yards (15.6-yard average). A year earlier, as a sophomore, the 6-3, 194-pound Wilson set school records with 82 receptions and 1,388 yards (16.9-yard average) and scored 12 touchdowns. He ran a 4.51 40 at the Combine.
--The Bears were able to get Georgia's defensive end Cornelius Washington in the sixth round with the 188th overall pick, although he was projected to be a second- or third-round pick by some draft analysts.
The 6-4, 265-pounder certainly tests like an elite player. He runs a 4.56-second 40-yard dash, has a 39-inch vertical jump and bench-pressed 225 pounds 36 times at the Combine.
"I'm a little bit discouraged, but the call came, and that's the most important thing," Washington said after the Bears ended his long wait. "Me and my agent both are still shocked. I have no idea what was going on.
"But you turn something that's a negative into a positive. It's still a blessing. I'm not bitter. I'm just ready to get to work."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "His biggest sin is he walked out. He made a young decision. He's just 20. We felt very comfortable that this was a good person who made an immature decision. He's owned up to that decision. He's ready to roll." -- Bears general manager Phil Emery on seventh-round pick Marquess Wilson, who quit the Washington State team after nine games last season.
NFL Team Report - Chicago Bears - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
A closer look at the Bears' picks:
Round 1/20 - Kyle Long, OG, 6-6, 313, Oregon
Developmental project who started just four games in FBS program and played in just 11. Former baseball pitcher who was drafted in the 23rd round out of high school by the White Sox. Started collegiate career as a pitcher on a baseball scholarship at Florida State but flunked out. Transferred to Saddleback JC, where he played defensive end in 2010 and moved to tackle in 2011. Father is Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long; brother is Rams defensive end Chris Long. Excellent athlete for the position. Ran a 4.94 40 at the Combine, best among all guards and 15.8 percent body fat was best among all linemen. Will be 25 in December.
Round 2/50 - Jonathan Bostic, LB, 6-1, 245, Florida
Bears believe he has the versatility to play all three linebacker positions. Started Gators career on the weak side but made all 32 of his starts at middle linebacker. Above-average agility and speed. Ran 4.61 40-yard dash and 4.24 20-yard shuttle. Plays with more finesse than brute strength and is more flashy than consistent. Father, Jon Bostic, was a defensive back for the Lions from 1985-87.
Round 4/117 - Khaseem Greene, LB, 6-1, 241, Rutgers
Big East defensive player of the year in 2012 and shared the award in 2011. Began Scarlet Knights career as a free safety and led the team with three interceptions in 2010, starting all 12 games. Converted to weak-side linebacker and had 141 tackles in '11 and 136 hits last season. Managed 26.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks in two seasons at linebacker. Had NCAA career-record 15 forced fumbles. Brother Ray is a running back at Pitt.
Round 5/163 - Jordan Mills, T, 6-5, 316, Louisiana Tech
Started 34 games, including all of the final 25 in his last two seasons. Started 29 games at right tackle and five at left guard. Hard worker with good mental approach and nice physical traits but needs to refine his technique and did not face top-level competition. Cousin is Packers cornerback Tramon Williams.
Round 6/188 - Cornelius Washington, DE, 6-4, 265, Georgia
Could be a huge bargain if he plays up to his potential, which he has done only in short bursts in the past. Seems to be better suited as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but will be a defensive end in the Bears' 4-3. Country strong, powerful and explosive. Ran a 4.56 40, had a 39-inch vertical at the Combine and bench-pressed 225 pounds 36 times. Has maxed 500 on the bench. Lacks instincts and doesn't play as well as he works out; had just 10.5 career sacks. Takes downs off, and competitiveness and coachability have been questioned. Can win with physical play as a run defender and pass rusher.
Round 7/236 - Marquess Wilson, WR, 6-3, 194, Washington State
Had a year of eligibility remaining. Has major character concerns. Was suspended from team last season after nine games and then quit. Was not allowed back on campus for Pro Day. Still led the team in receiving with 52 catches for 813 yards (15.6-yard average). In 2011, as a sophomore, set school records with 83 receptions and 1,388 yards, averaging 16.9 yards per catch and scoring 12 touchdowns. Has average speed but good agility. Despite a lack of strength (just seven reps of 225 on the bench), will catch over the middle.
FRANCHISE PLAYER: DT Henry Melton (tendered at $8.45 million; signed tender March 12).
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (6)
--RB Kahlil Bell was cut but then re-signed after Michael Bush was injured late in the season. He has some value, but only as a No. 3, and he has had fumbling issues in the past.
--DE Israel Idonije lost his starting job to Corey Wootton midway through the season but still played extensively in a rotation that utilized four players. He also adds great value because of his versatility, having played inside in the past, where he provides decent pass rush.
--PK Olindo Mare won't be back. He was a late-season fill-in for Robbie Gould, who is recovered from a sprained knee.
--S Troy Nolan could be a factor on special teams but not much more.
--DT Amobi Okoye wasn't much more than a warm body last season, but he's still only 26, so he could figure as a backup.
--LB Brian Urlacher has been the face of the franchise for a decade, but the team announced March 20 he won't be re-signed.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.
DRAFT CHOICES SIGNED
--LB Khaseem Greene (4/117); 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--T Jordan Mills (5/163): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Cornelius Washington (6/188): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--WR Marquess Wilson (7/236): 4 yrs, terms unknown.
--RB Armando Allen: ERFA; terms unknown.
--CB Zack Bowman: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Nate Collins: Not tendered as RFA; $630,000/1 yr.
--CB Kelvin Hayden: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Josh McCown: UFA; $865,000/1 yr, $25,000 SB/$125,000 guaranteed.
--DT Henry Melton: FFA; $8.45M/1 yr.
--T Jonathan Scott: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB James Anderson: FA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--TE Martellus Bennett: UFA Giants; $20M/4 yrs, $4.5M SB/$9M guaranteed.
--G Eben Britton: UFA Jaguars; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--T Jermon Bushrod: UFA Saints; $36M/5 yrs, $11M SB/$17.715M guaranteed.
--TE Brody Eldridge: FA; terms unknown.
--DT Andre Fluellen: UFA Lions; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--CB LeQuan Lewis: FA; terms unknown.
--TE Steve Maneri: Not tendered as ERFA by Chiefs; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Turk McBride: UFA Saints; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DE Kyle Moore: UFA Bills; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--G Matt Slauson: UFA Jets; $815,000/1 yr, $100,000 SB/$200,000 guaranteed.
--LB D.J. Williams: FA Broncos; $1.75M/1 yr.
--S Tom Zbikowski: FA Colts; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Jason Campbell: UFA Browns; $4.25M/2 yrs, $500,000 guaranteed.
--TE Kellen Davis (released).
--LB Geno Hayes: UFA Jaguars; $2M/2 yrs.
--WR Johnny Knox (released/failed physical; subsequently retired).
--G Lance Louis: UFA Dolphins; $1.603M/1 yr, $100,000 guaranteed.
--CB D.J. Moore: UFA Panthers; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--G Chilo Rachal: UFA Cardinals; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Nick Roach: UFA Raiders; $13M/4 yrs, $5M guaranteed.
--TE Matt Spaeth (released).
--C/G Chris Spencer: UFA Titans; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--DT Matt Toeaina (released).