When this off-season finally got off to it’s league official start the Bears quickly started to design their defense. The first brick applied to the defensive rebuild was a relatively unheralded one when they signed DE Austen Lane to a one year deal in mid February, but it was the push that got the snowball rolling downhill and slowly built into a rampaging avalanche. After the draft ended and the smoke had cleared it was obvious the Bears keyed in on the defensive line to get the team back to a top 5-10 defense. Just like in free agency that philosophy stayed constant during the draft as the Bears selected two rookie defensive tackles in the 2nd and 3rd round.
Ego Ferguson was the first to be selected, and shortly after Will Sutton followed him off the board to the Bears. Two contracting styles of play inside, and both will be used often this season in a rotation of sub packages. Ferguson is athletic, and pretty nimble for a 315 lb. man, but his game is power. As a matter of fact the Bears defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni asked if he could play 2 technique which is a classic 2 gap technique which is associated with more of a big space eater at Defensive Tackle than a quick penetrating one.
Sutton is the quick one gap defensive tackle most commonly known as a 3 technique although 1 technique is another one he can and has played. I also have no doubt he would hold up well at 5 technique as well. Both tackles each bring a unique set of skills to the table, but both will work in tandem this season and perhaps 5 or more seasons together to cause disruption for opposing offenses. How will they actually accomplish this? Let’s take a closer look.
First lets examine their skill sets and what they did in college. Ferguson has played in a multiple front versatile defense at LSU. It’s exactly what he will play in with the Bears so that experience will come in handy to make his transition easier. At LSU he played in a 4-3 base, but they would morph into many different fronts based on personnel, and situational match ups. They also played a 3-4. well actually a 3-2-6 to be technical. That’s 3 down linemen, 2 linebackers, and 6 defensive backs. This was the Tigers Mustang package. In this set they would start out in a 3-4 and than move around as they saw fit. In this set Ferguson would play zero technique. They also play some 4-2-5 if the offense audibled into a run by walking down the SS to play OLB, and moving up one of their 2 LB’s at one of the end position and than sliding Anthony Johnson into to play tackle along with Ferguson where they would both play 2 technique or one would play zero and the other at the 2 technique depending on the offensive formation. Bears will play a lot of these types of formations with their sub sets defending 3 and 4 wide receiver spread formations.
As for Will Sutton he will contribute by penetrating the line into the backfield and cause disruptions against both run and pass. A lot of people call him a pure 3 technique at the next level, but in the videos I saw of him he was all over the place on that line. Even played both RDE, and LDE albeit seldomly Most of the time he played the 1,3, and even the 5 technique. He has a good bull rush, and a nice rip and dip as well as a swim. Needs more though. The Bears coaching staff will get their hands on him and improve his overall knowlege and technique, and hopefully more of a repertoire. He does have good hands which he’ll need to get bigger/longer offensive linemen hands off of him as his length is not up to par with the better defensive tackles of the game. Sutton should make an instant impact penetrating the gaps with constant disruption in the backield, and hopefully causing more sacks, TFL’s, and turnovers. It’s exactly why the Bears drafted him.
So This off-season was Mel Tucker‘s Christmas. He got most of the presents and the draft was no different. The Bears committed to him and gave him as much to work with as any defensive coordinator could ever hope to have. These two young Defensive tackles are no exception. Now it’s up to Tucker to figure out how to use them as well as all of his other brand new shiny toys.