Bears third-round draft pick Will Sutton was named Pac-12 defensive player of the year each of the past two seasons. But the Arizona State defensive tackle was much more dominant as a junior when he weighed 285 pounds than when he bulked up to 320 pounds as a senior.
"I felt [gaining weight] hurt me a little, but I was just getting information [from people] saying I was too small for the NFL and I was just listening and they said it was bad," said Sutton, who was selected by the Bears with the 82nd pick in the draft. "I've been working to get the weight off and I'm back down to what I was my junior season and just ready to prove to everybody what type of football player I really am."
Sutton blossomed as a junior at Arizona State, recording 64 tackles, 23.5 tackles-for-loss and 13 sacks. After putting on the extra weight last season, his production declined to 48 tackles, 13.5 tackles-for-loss and four sacks.
See select photos of DT Will Sutton, the Bears third-round pick (82 overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft.
During a conference call with reporters Friday night, Sutton said that he currently weighs 290 pounds. The Bears would like Sutton to keep his weight between 285-295 pounds.
"If he stays consistently in there he's going to be a very good football player," said general manager Phil Emery.
Emery understands that Sutton put on the extra weight at Arizona State because he was asked to do so and feels it was evidence that the defensive tackle was committed to his team.
"It said he's dedicated toward improving himself; that when he sets his mind toward something he can accomplish it," Emery said. "There's a lot of pressure on young people. He wants to achieve. He was told by a lot of people-people that he trusted-that he needed to gain weight and get bigger.
"Maybe he needed to gain a little bit, but not quite that much and I think once he did it was hard for him to get it back down. It affected his play but you're still talking about someone that was player of the year in his conference on defense.
In scouting Sutton, Emery said he paid particular attention to late-season contests against UCLA, Arizona and Stanford in the Pac-12 championship game.
"He was a good football player in those games at over 300 pounds," Emery said. "I was fortunate to see him a year ago-the 2012 season against Oregon. The first play of the game he had a tackle for loss and then he got hurt. But I knew what he looked like when he was lighter. So that did have an influence on us in terms of what direction he was going."
Sutton is eager to join the Bears and begin working with defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni.
"Everybody there is great and I love what they've got going on and I'm just glad to be a part of what they're trying to do and just being a part of Bears history," Sutton said. "There's just so much history in that program."
Asked what type of player the Bears are getting, Sutton said: ""They are getting a player who has a constant motor, he's going to come to work every day, he knows the game of football, he's going to get in the film room and is just going to do what he is told to do."
While Sutton will initially get reps at both defensive tackle positions, he feels that he's better suited to play the three technique.
"That's just what I can excel at," he said. "I'm not really the big, physical type of d-lineman like the people they want to play that nose position. My strength is that pass rush, getting that one-on-one pass rush and penetrating on the run."
Although he grew up in California, Sutton said that he's been a Bears fan since he was a child, mainly because his cousins on his father's side live in town.
"I became a Bears fan, shoot, back when I was little," he said. "I have family that lives in Chicago and they've always brought me jerseys, hats, everything back and it just grew on me."