The Bears addressed their offensive line in the fifth round of the draft Saturday, choosing Kutztown guard/tackle Jordan Morgan with the 147th overall pick.
A four-year starting left tackle in college, the 6-3, 309-pounder won the Gene Upshaw Award as the top Division II lineman as a senior. Last year Morgan also became the first lineman to be named Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East offensive athlete of the year.
Morgan faced elite competition at the Senior Bowl, lining up for the North team that was led by Bears coach John Fox and the rest of his staff.
"Coming from a small D2 school I knew that I had to make the most of the opportunity because that was my big shot to show teams that I was ready to compete at a higher level." said Morgan, who took practice reps at guard for the first time.
"The beginning of the week was definitely an adjustment because of the difference in competition level, difference in position. I had to adjust a bit I think after my first day or so I started to pick it up on the fly and I just started to perform better and better each day."
Morgan worked closely at the Senior Bowl with offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn, who was hired by the Bears in January after spending the eight previous seasons with the Lions (2009-15) and Dolphins (2016).
"I actually really liked the staff a lot," Morgan said. "Going into the Senior Bowl I didn't really know exactly what to expect. But I felt like I hit it off with coach Washburn and them right off the bat. They are really humble down-to-earth guys and offered advice whenever they could.
"The biggest thing for me that I noticed was just how approachable they were. If I had a question ranging from anything from a play or to just certain technique or how they want me to block certain things, they were straight up with me and told me how they wanted it to get done and tried their best to convey that message to me and that was what I liked the most about them."
Morgan traveled an interesting path to the NFL. He didn't play high school football until his senior year when he joined the team at Parkway Northwest simply to gain "enrichment hours" that were required by Philadelphia schools to graduate.
"It was basically a program that some schools in inner-city Philly had to help promote the youth and push them through the school and try to keep them out of trouble and off the streets," Morgan said. "So you had to do either extra credit, like community service, or you had to do extracurricular activities. I just went with football because I already had a few friends on the team who were already encouraging me to try it, so I figured why not?"
Morgan only played the second half of his senior season due to an injury and, as a result, drew little interest from colleges. He enrolled at Kutztown and joined the football team as a walk-on. Just one year later—after his freshman season—it was evident he could have a future in the NFL.
"At that point I realized that I had some things going for me," Morgan said. "I was able to move better than some guys and do things better, and these would be dudes who had been playing the game for 10, 15 years. And then there's just me who had literally only been playing for like a year or two.
"I was always trying to constantly push myself to see how much better of a player I could become, and each season I just had to have that goal, just trying to set the bar higher and higher. Then I just started to see that I could compete with anyone as long as I kept that same work ethic."
While Morgan played left tackle at Kutztown, many are projecting him as a guard in the NFL.
"I don't really have a preference between the two," he said. "I played 43 games at left tackle in college. That week at the Senior Bowl was my first real live reps at guard. But I like it just as much as tackle. So I really don't have a preference. I just like being out on the field and being able to compete."