A night after the Bears added their corner of the near future, general manager Phil Emery and Co. took a defensive tackle from the best conference in college football.
LSU’s Ego Ferguson was the pick by the Bears with the No. 51 selection on Friday night. The junior from the SEC chose to come out after only his first full season as a starter.
Ferguson started 12 games, racking up 58 tackles, three-and-a-half tackles for a loss and a sack in 2013. His best game came against Alabama, where he totaled seven tackles.
The 6-3, 315 pound Ferguson can come in and ease the pain along the defensive line with Nate Collins and Jeremiah Ratliff taking the bulk of the snaps. Stephen Paea and Israel Idonije are also in the mix for time inside.
This is a nice value pick and Emery chose not trade up for a guy like Ra’Shede Hagemen, whom the Falcons took early in the second round or Timmy Jernigan, who the Ravens took three picks prior to the Bears.
“The thing that kept coming up when you watched him against SEC [opponents] was that he controlled the front,” Phil Emery said via Chicagobears.com. “People could not run the ball up inside when he was on the field, and that was a big attraction for us.”
In two seasons prior to 2013, Ferguson posted 27 tackles in total. He is raw, but he is a pure athlete and can be very disruptive. He should be a nice fit at the two-technique position or at nose.
First-year defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni plans on using Ferguson at the two-technique, where he will line up against a guard.
“(Pasqualoni) brought me to the office and were just talking ball for a long time. And he asked me, can I play that 2-technique? Can I do it? He said that’s what he wanted me for and he showed a lot of interest,” Ferguson said in a team conference call.
Ferguson has a nice mixture of size and speed. He needs some seasoning and some consistency. He tends to disappear from games at times, but the Bears still have time to develop him in the near future.
STRENGTHS Good size, foot speed, balance and athletic ability. Flashes the ability to stack, locate and shed. Bends his knees, redirects efficiently and has good range for a 300-pounder — flows well laterally. Nice closing speed. Had disruptive potential.
WEAKNESSES Needs to get stronger through his core and base. Needs to quicken his hands and use them more violently. Raw counters and pass-rush moves. Power element is missing. Spends too much time idled at the line of scrimmage. Does not dominate single blocks and gets beat up by double teams. Limited two-gap ability. Disappears for long stretches. Only a one-year starter with minimal behind-the-line production.
BOTTOM LINE Athletic, raw, developmental three-technique with clear upside, though he is inexperienced, aimless and unrefined at this stage of his development. Needs more glass in his diet and simply does not impact games the way he should. Is likely to test well and be drafted higher than his performance dictates in the hopes a defensive line coach can tap into his potential.
This could turn into a steal for the Bears. A pick similar to Alshon Jeffery two years ago. Ferguson is a first-round talent, but fell to the Bears at No. 51 on day two because he is still developing. At the very least Ferguson will be a run stuffer for a revamped Bears’ defense.
He is a nice fit for the 4-3 scheme and could turn out to be just as good as Melton considering he played at a powerhouse school in LSU, where he replaced Michael Brockers. He needs to get stronger as he gains confidence in the defensive line rotation.
The Bears have taken care of two very big needs in cornerback and defensive tackle with their first two selections. Hats off to Emery and his staff in the war room.
The Bears still have five more picks in the 2014 draft: in the third round (No. 82), fourth round (No. 117), the fifth round (No. 156), and two in the sixth round (Nos. 183 and 191).
Here is the rest of the full mock draft I wrote up on Thursday that breaks down all seven Bears picks, 2014 NFL Mock Draft: Chicago Bears Edition. Also, take a look at the analysis of the Kyle Fuller selection at No. 14 from the first-round.