Bears sign sixth-round pick LB Thomas
July, 27, 2011
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Chicago Bears sixth-round linebacker JT Thomas flew into Chicago on Tuesday morning -- the first day the team could officially sign draft picks and undrafted rookies -- and left the same night with a contract in hand, having agreed to terms on a four-year deal.
AP Photo/Jeff GentnerJT Thomas can play all three linebacker positions, versatility the Bears covet.
The Bears also came to an agreement with fifth-round quarterback Nathan Enderle, who signed a four-year deal.
Projected as an outside linebacker, Thomas produced 73 tackles as a senior at West Virginia that included seven stops for lost yardage, 2.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles on the way to earning first-team all-Big East accolades.
After making Thomas the 195th overall selection, Bears general manager Jerry Angelo raved about Thomas’ natural skills falling in line with what the club covets in its linebackers.
“He fits us perfectly; he can play all three positions,” Angelo said. “We spent a lot of time on him. We feel very, very good about his fit. Picking up a linebacker was a goal if he was the right one.”
Thomas hasn’t played a down for the Bears, but has already become popular among the team’s fan base for a gesture in generosity in taking a 14-year old Bears fan to a middle-school dance in Morgantown, W.Va.
The act of kindness drew praise from football fans nationally.
With the signing of Thomas, the Bears will turn their attention to third-round pick Chris Conte, second-rounder Stephen Paea, and first-round selection Gabe Carimi.
The Bears, led by contract negotiator Cliff Stein, have earned a reputation for signing draft picks early and getting them to camp on time. But the short timeline between the signing period and Friday’s start of training camp brings minor complications that the team shouldn’t have trouble overcoming.