The Bears continued to address their defense in the second round of the draft, taking LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson with the 51st pick on Friday.
The Bears have been busy retooling a unit that ranked among the league's worst in an effort to jump to the playoffs after missing out for the sixth time in seven years. They went 8-8 last season.
Chicago addressed the line in the second round after grabbing Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller with the 14th pick on Thursday. In Fuller, they believe they have a versatile cornerback who can contribute next season and move into a starting role. In the third round, the Bears went back to the defensive line and selected Arizona State's defensive tackle Will Sutton at No. 82.
The 6-foot-3, 315-pound Ferguson brings size and athleticism, but is also considered raw after leaving school a year early. He was suspended from the Outback Bowl against Iowa for violating team rules and did not work out at the NFL combine because of a right ankle injury he suffered in the days leading up to it.
Ferguson decided to turn pro because his mother Brenda injured her back breaking up a fight at a detention center where she works.
"At the end of the day, she wasn't able to work and I knew that my family needed me," he said.
Ferguson insisted the decision to leave school was his, that he felt no pressure to do so, and he said his mom is getting better. The Bears hope he can help turn around a defense that struggled in a big way last season.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes to win whenever it takes and however long it takes," he said. "I'm not going to stop."
When he visited the Bears, Ferguson said he talked at length with defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni. One thing Pasqualoni wanted to know was how comfortable Ferguson is playing head up over the guard, an indication that Chicago will mix up looks.
"We were basically talking ball for a long time, and he was asking me can I play the two technique," Ferguson said. "Can I do it? He said that's what they want me for, and he showed a lot of interest."
Ferguson figures to back up Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins assuming he's ready after missing most of last season with a knee injury and could push Stephen Paea for time. In his first year as a starter last season, Ferguson had 58 tackles. His main job was to occupy multiple blockers, creating chances for linebackers to make plays.
"I feel like I have a lot of upside," Ferguson said. "I feel like a lot of people didn't realize how athletic I was. My ability to move around out there (was better) than people thought it was. I just feel like I got a perfect opportunity with a perfect team, and I just want to make the best of it."
The Colts selected Ohio State offensive lineman Jack Mewhort with their first pick in the NFL draft, taking the 6-foot-6, 309-pounder at No. 59 overall.
Indianapolis was quiet Thursday after trading its first-round pick to Cleveland in September for running back Trent Richardson. The Colts then had to wait almost two more hours after the draft reconvened before they finally had a chance to choose a player.
General manager and Highland grad Ryan Grigson quickly tried to fill one of his team's voids along the offensive line.
Mewhort played both guard spots and at left tackle with the Buckeyes and he started at all five positions along the offensive line in high school.
Indianapolis went into the draft looking to improve three primary spots – safety, center and receiver.
Grigson, an ex-lineman, decided protecting his biggest investment — Andrew Luck — was the top priority.
Mewhort could fit anywhere. Considered one of the best recruits in the nation at center, he played both guard spots at Ohio State before moving to left tackle in 2012 – and even continued to take snaps in case there was an emergency at center.
The Ohio native insists he can play anywhere the Colts want him.
"I played left tackle at Ohio State, I went to the Senior Bowl at right tackle and guard, so I'm confident I can go in and be competitive at any place," he told reporters on a conference call.
Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo, a star on the FCS level from the school that produced Tony Romo, went to New England at No. 62. The heir to Tom Brady?
Notre Dame defensive end Stephon Tuitt was taken by Pittsburgh at No. 46. Fighting Irish tight end Troy Nicklas as taken by Arizona at No. 52. N.D.defensive tackle Louis Nix III was taken in the third round (No. 83) by Houston.
Also, Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer was selected by Denver at No. 56.