The Bears spent back-to-back draft picks on defensive tackles Friday night, selecting LSU's Ego Ferguson in the second round (51st overall) and Arizona State's Will Sutton in the third (82nd).
"I'm very happy to add two quality young defensive linemen," said general manager Phil Emery. "Both present different styles as players. Both fit for the Bears for different reasons."
Ferguson appeared in 26 games, all as a backup, during his first two seasons at LSU in 2011-12 before moving into the starting lineup last season as a junior. The 6-3, 315-pounder started the first 12 games, recording 58 tackles, 3.5 tackles-for-loss and one sack.
Sutton was named the Pac-12 defensive player of the year each of the past two seasons. The 6-foot, 303-pounder blossomed as a junior in 2012, recording 64 tackles, 23.5 tackles-for-loss and 13 sacks. Last season he registered 48 tackles, 13.5 tackles-for-loss and four sacks.
"With Ego Ferguson, we were very much looking for players that can be physical at the point of attack and help us stop the run," Emery said. "Will Sutton can do that also. He does that in a little bit different way. But both of them are more than capable of setting the edge, of being physical up front and penetrating the line of scrimmage with their power, leverage and football skills."
Ferguson and Sutton join a defensive line that was bolstered in free agency with the signings of Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young and Israel Idonije. Emery has completely revamped the unit this offseason after the Bears allowed the most points, total yards and rushing yards in franchise history last year while also tying for last in the NFL in sacks.
"Obviously we're very aware of where we were at defensively a year ago and everything that we've been doing since that point from the time that the season stopped as far as reviewing our defense and where we needed to go and the changes we needed to make to become a Chicago Bears defense—a tough, physical team that stops the run and gets after the passer—has led up to this point and that's why we took these two players in succession," Emery said.
"You have to have players that are capable of controlling the run on the inside. The front determines the game in terms of controlling the run and putting pressure on the passer and that's why we went defensive tackle back-to-back in the second and third round."
Interestingly, only one other defensive tackle was taken between the Bears' second- and third-round picks—Syracuse's Jay Bromley 74th to the New York Giants.
"It's a short-supply high-demand position," Emery said. "You have to take them when they're available and you take the ones you feel good about. We wanted those players. We felt good about where we took them. Their grades represented that. The players represented that. Both of them have upside.
"Both of them were targeted players as we had painted this plan over the last couple weeks. They were the two players that we had slotted for those two spots. I was extremely happy to get them."
While Ferguson recorded only one sack in 38 career games at LSU, Emery was impressed with how dominant he was against the run, especially late last season.
"The thing that kept coming up when you watched him against SEC [opponents] was that he controlled the front," Emery said. "People could not run the ball up inside when he was on the field, and that was a big attraction for us.
"He is very tough at the point of attack. This is a very strong, very powerful young man. I wanted to see where he was at rush-wise and each one of those games he had four or five power rushes where he disrupted the quarterback. Does he need to get better at that? Yes, he does. [But] every player in the draft needs to get better at something."