MOBILE, Ala. — In the final 25 years, the Chicago Bears have drafted two edge rushers who went on to have a double-digit-sack season for the group.
Mark Anderson, a fifth-round decide in 2006, had a career-high 12 throughout his rookie season. Rosevelt Colvin, a fourth-round decide in 1999, had 10 1/2 sacks in 2001 and 2002 earlier than departing leaving as a free agent.
The solely different edge rusher to succeed in at the very least 10 sacks in a season did it elsewhere — Leonard Floyd, chosen ninth in 2016, had 10 1/2 sacks this season for the Buffalo Bills and the identical quantity in 2020 for the Los Angeles Rams.
The Bears have fueled their go rush largely with free brokers or commerce acquisitions, and normal supervisor Ryan Poles crammed a gaping want midseason when he traded for Montez Sweat after which secured the defensive finish with a four-year, $98 million extension.
For coach Matt Eberflus’ protection to succeed in one other stage — and that’s the objective — the Bears want a pass-rushing risk reverse Sweat. A handful of veterans will likely be price consideration in free company, together with Danielle Hunter of the Minnesota Vikings, however in an ideal world the group would be capable of pair a rookie with Sweat, who will flip 28 in September.
It’s method too early to venture how issues will shake out, but when the Bears draft a quarterback with the No. 1 decide within the draft, they may contemplate a large receiver, offensive sort out or edge rusher at No. 9. If Poles trades down at No. 9, he nonetheless may fish in the identical waters for these positions.
UCLA’s Laiatu Latu is probably the most completed pure edge rusher within the draft and initiatives as a first-round decide after totaling 23 1/2 sacks during the last two seasons. The Pac-12 defensive participant of the 12 months additionally received the Lombardi Award as the perfect defensive lineman within the nation, and he has regarded the half this week at Senior Bowl practices with some silky clean spin strikes on the sting and high-level hand utilization.
Latu measured 6-foot-5, 261 kilos, so he has good dimension, however his arms in all probability aren’t a perfect size at 32 1/2 inches. For comparability, Sweat was 6-6, 260 on the mix in 2019, and his arms measured 35 3/4 inches. Eberflus places a giant emphasis on size when he’s scouting defensive gamers.
But the manufacturing is there, and the most important query for Latu starting subsequent month on the scouting mix will encompass medical studies. Latu briefly retired from soccer after struggling a neck damage at the start his faculty profession at Washington. Latu suffered a stinger in apply because the Huskies ready for the 2020 season.
“Just took a weird hit and got a stinger going down my body that lasted 20 seconds, like a lot of other people feel,” he stated.
Latu didn’t really feel proper afterward, and following an MRI, Washington docs determined he would wish to sit down out the season. He finally required surgical procedure for a slipped disk in March 2021. The Huskies medical group basically determined it wasn’t secure for him to proceed taking part in and mainly medically retired him.
Rehab was imagined to be a grueling nine-month course of. But 2 1/2 months faraway from surgical procedure, Latu felt no issues. He was nonetheless at Washington and had retained his scholarship however wasn’t allowed to play soccer.
“You can call me stubborn, but I went into playing men’s rugby and really just testing my body, tackling grown men and stuff like that,” he stated. “I earned a contract from the Seattle Seawolves to go and play with them for an extended part of time. They’d pay me and give me housing, stuff like that, turned that down. I wanted to chase my passion for football.”
Latu sought one other opinion on his neck damage and met with Dr. Robert Watkins in Southern California. Latu was cleared to play soccer, entered the switch portal and was a heck of a discover for the Bruins.
Every group right here has requested him about his journey and the medical course of, and he can level out he had no damage points the final two years at UCLA.
“Head, neck and heart, those are the three issues that get really tricky for the medical teams,” a high-ranking personnel man stated after apply Tuesday at South Alabama’s Whitney Hancock Stadium. “It could be a deal where half the teams pass him and half fail him.”
Sweat had a coronary heart subject when he got here out of Mississippi State. He was reported to be recognized with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which leads to thickening of the center partitions. Some later stated that analysis was incorrect, however the official I spoke to stated his group eliminated Sweat from its draft board. Sweat is a transparent instance of a participant with a medical-related subject who can go on to have a productive and sturdy profession regardless of the questions of extremely skilled docs.
On the sphere, Latu isn’t nice defending the run and has had just a few situations in practices through which he has struggled to set the sting.
“He’s not overly strong,” a school scouting director stated. “He’s willing and it’s not a lack of effort in the run game. You might want him to add some weight if he’s a three-down player. But there’s so many sub packages, if you’re just drafting him to hunt the quarterback, you’re fine.”
In a draft class that isn’t stocked with elite edge rushers, Latu may have skipped the Senior Bowl and saved his focus strictly on making ready for on-field testing on the mix in Indianapolis.
“I was told I could never play football again,” Latu stated. “To me, I can’t get enough of it, especially learning from the best of the best while being out here. Really just gaining knowledge and growing.”