Bears' second-round pick has room to grow

Ego Ferguson projects as solid inside run defender who can fill gaps with size and shed blocks with length to work toward ball

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Tribune reporters Dan Wiederer and Rich Campbell discuss Bears' new DTs Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton

The Bears and general manager Phil Emery addressed the interior of the defensive line during the second round of the NFL draft Friday night with the selection of LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson.

The 6-foot-3, 315-pound, Ferguson projects as a solid inside run defender who can fill gaps with his size and shed blocks with his length to work laterally to the ball.

The key with Ferguson is to think about the upside he brings to the NFL. The defensive tackle has a high ceiling because of his athletic ability and initial quickness off the ball, but with only one year of starting experience, he has room to develop.

Ferguson needs pro coaching (and reps versus veteran talent) to develop as a pass rusher in the NFL. This is where he can work on his technique (hand placement), leverage, pad level and counter moves at the point of attack.

From a scheme/alignment perspective, Ferguson can play the 3-technique tackle in the Bears 4-3 fronts and has the size also to slide down to nose tackle.

Plus, the LSU product can align as the 2-technique (head up the guard) or a 2i-technique (inside shade of the guard) if defensive coordinator Mel Tucker shows more hybrid fronts this season to utilize the versatility of the defensive line.

The Bears defense was gashed up front versus the run in 2013 and landing a player like Ferguson gives Tucker's unit a space eater in the rotation.

This was Emery's goal in drafting Ferguson to continue the rebuilding of the defensive line. Now let's see if the defensive tackle can maximize his abilities to reach his high ceiling as an athlete.

Special contributor Matt Bowen spent seven seasons in the NFL as a strong safety. He covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

Twitter @MattBowen41

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