LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears tapped into a deep class of defensive linemen in the third round (No. 72) by drafting Florida DT/DE Jonathan Bullard, who as luck would have it, spent part of the offseason training with first-round pick Leonard Floyd.
My take: The Bears want to collect pass-rushers. Bullard, who played both end and tackle at Florida, had 66 tackles, 17.5 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks last year. He registered 8.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks as a junior. Bullard may be best suited to rush in a sub package, but again, Chicago has to do a better job of applying pressure to opposing quarterbacks.
"Bullard, we see him more as a 3-4 defensive end for us," Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. "He played defensive end there and bulked up a little bit more this past season, added weight to play more of a 3-technique position for them. When you watch the tape on him, there’s one thing that you can’t coach with these guys is get off. His get off is excellent. I think there’s a lot of advantages just from that alone."
The hope is that with new additions Leonard Floyd and Bullard, the Bears' defense has an easier job getting off the field on third down. After Eddie Goldman, Akiem Hicks and Mitch Unrein, the Bears had lots of question marks on the defensive line. Bullard eases some of those concerns.
Florida pipeline: Florida churns out versatile defensive linemen. In 2013, the Vikings used a first-round pick on Florida's Sharrif Floyd. The following draft, the Patriots took Dominique Easley in Round 1. Floyd has been average in Minnesota with 9.5 career sacks. New England recently released Easley in a surprise offseason move. Bullard is not a top pick, but Chicago thinks he can make an impact. Or at least, unlike Easley, last more than two seasons. He is the third Florida player selected by the Bears since 2010, joining safety Major Wright (third round, 2010) and linebacker Jon Bostic (second round, 2013). Neither Wright nor Bostic is on the current roster.
Link to the past: Bullard led the Gators with his 17.5 tackles for loss in 2015, the most by a Florida defender since former Bears defensive end Alex Brown had 18 in 1999. Can you imagine Bullard emulating Brown’s success in Chicago? That would make the pick a steal. One of the more underrated players from the great Bears teams of 2005 and 2006, Brown enjoyed a highly productive run in Chicago from 2002-09. A fun-loving personality inside the locker room, Brown topped the Bears in sacks in 2003, 2004 and 2008.
What’s next: The Bears have a total of seven picks on Day 3. Chicago owns three picks (Nos. 117, 124, 127) in the fourth round, one in the fifth round (No. 150), two in the sixth round (Nos. 185, 206) and one in the seventh round (No. 230). They still have needs at cornerback, safety, quarterback and tight end.