After spending four straight picks on defense, the Bears addressed the other side of the ball by selecting Indiana running back Jordan Howard with the 150th choice in the fifth round.
Howard rushed for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns on 196 carries and caught 11 passes for 106 yards and one TD last year at Indiana despite missing four games with ankle and knee injuries.
"This guy is a downhill, physical north-south runner," said general manager Ryan Pace. "I just like the style and physicality that he plays with as well. I think he complements our other backs. He's a very good type of running back that can just wear down the defense, just real physical nature."
The 6-foot. 230-pounder played his first two collegiate seasons at Alabama-Birmingham in 2013-14 before transferring to Indiana after UAB disbanded its football program.
Appearing in 23 games with 16 starts in two years at Alabama-Birmingham, Howard rushed for 2,468 yards and 15 TDs on 451 attempts and caught 13 passes for 155 yards and two TDs.
With the 150th pick (5th round) in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bears select Indiana RB Jordan Howard.
Although Howard and his UAB teammates knew the school was thinking about dropping football, they were still stunned when the decision was made after they compiled a 6-6 record in 2014.
"It was crazy," Howard said. "We had been hearing rumors that they might shut the program down, but when it actually happened, we couldn't believe it. We finally had a [successful] season and were bowl eligible and when that happened we were just crushed."
Quickly accepted by his new teammates at Indiana, Howard excelled right out of the gate. He became the first FBS player in the last 20 years to rush for at least 140 yards in each of his first four games with a program, compiling 145, 159, 203 and 168 yards.
"Coming out of high school I had one offer to play at UAB in Conference USA, so I definitely wanted to prove I could play on a bigger stage," Howard said. "And I was doing it for UAB because they shut the program down. I wore my heart on my sleeve for them."
In back-to-back games late in the season, Howard rushed for 174 yards against Iowa and 238 yards versus Michigan, the second most ever by a Wolverines opponent.
Possessing more strength and power than speed and quickness, Howard is a productive inside runner who has the tools to succeed at the next level.
"I feel like I'm a grinder," Howard said. "I can get those tough yards, and in the NFL, you don't really see those long, explosive runs like you see in college. There are a few, but not many. So I feel my game suits the NFL more than it does college."
Howard will join a Bears running back position that includes Jeremy Langford, Ka'Deem Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers and Senorise Perry.
"We talked about it a lot with [offensive coordinator] Dowell [Loggains] and [running backs coach] Stan Drayton, just how these running backs complement each other," Pace said. "Jordan Howard is that physical pounder. We just love that style of play from him.
"You kind of want to mix those guys together. He brought a little bit of a different dimension. I think he'll fit very well into that room. He's a highly productive player. I think with these running backs, they better have good vision, and he has really good vision, and he runs really hard. That's a pretty good combination."