LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- With three linebackers flying off the board early on Day 2 -- Manti Te'o (No. 38), Kevin Minter (No. 45) and Kiko Alonso (No. 46) -- the Chicago Bears joined the party at No. 50 and selected University of Florida inside linebacker Jonathan Bostic to complement the offseason additions of veterans D.J. Williams and James Anderson.
Linebacker was a must for the Bears.
Bears general manager Phil Emery needed to find a young linebacker to push Williams and Anderson for starting jobs, while at the same time providing the club with insurance in the event one of the front line guys went down with an injury.
“The reason we like Jon -- he’s a three-position linebacker,” Emery said. “We felt it was very important that if we were going to take a linebacker in the second round, that we get somebody who can immediately fill in at all three spots. If one of our starters was not available due to injury, that he could fill in immediately and we would have a good football player in place right now.
“Obviously he’ll be given the opportunity to earn a starting job. We see him as a future starter.”
But why Bostic?
The Bears had several linebackers in for pre-draft visits who were still available at the time of the pick, but Emery said Bostic stood above the group for four key reasons.
“One is intelligence -- he’s a guy that can line up others,” Emery said. “We brought him in for a visit and felt very good about his football aptitude and his ability to line everybody else up on the field. (The second reason is that) he’s fast. He’s one of the fastest linebackers in the class. Three was his positional flexibility, and I’ll go four -- special teams.
“He fit the bill.”
The fact Bostic played in the SEC didn’t hurt his cause. The Bears have always heavily scouted the school, with former draft choices Major Wright, Rex Grossman, Alex Brown, Ian Scott and Todd Johnson coming out of Gainesville.
However, the Bears have whiffed on numerous occasions since 2003 when the club hit a home run with Lance Briggs in the third round. This year, more than ever, it’s critical the Bears get it right considering the one-year deals awarded to Williams and Anderson and the age of Briggs (32), who does still perform at a Pro Bowl level.
Bostic had an impressive career for the Gators -- 32 career starts, 19.5 tackles for loss, 8.0 sacks and five interceptions -- while playing in a power conference.
If the Bears' evaluations are correct, the team might have found the eventual replacement to Brian Urlacher.
If they're wrong, there is a high likelihood the Bears will have to re-draft the position next year for the same exact reasons that led Emery to select Bostic in the first place.