NFC North: 2014 NFL Draft

Once the NFL draft comes to a close, it’s always interesting and fun to go back through all the notes and interviews cobbled throughout the pre-draft process.

The college prospects come in and out, whether at the Senior Bowl or NFL combine, and you just never know whether the player you’re interviewing will be later drafted by the team you cover. Here’s a transcript of a group interview with Chicago Bears fourth-round pick Ka'Deem Carey from February's combine:

[+] EnlargeKaDeem Carey
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesKa'Deem Carey will have the opportunity to step into the No. 2 running back role for the Bears in 2014.
Question: What back playing would you compare yourself to nowadays?
Answer: "Oh, you're going to hit me with the nowadays. I'd say a mix between Adrian Peterson and LeSean McCoy. Adrian Peterson runs hard and LeSean McCoy has the shakes in the open field to break a safety down. My (favorite) running back is Brian Westbrook because he catches, he blocks. He does it all."

Q: How much better of a receiver are you now having played for Rich Rodriguez at Arizona?
A: "I'm definitely a lot better receiver than what I came to college as. I felt like Rich Rod coming into the program definitely benefited me because playing under coach [Mike] Stoops, I would have had a couple catches. But he (Rodriguez) loved to spread it around, put me in the slot. I'm really comfortable with that and excited about it."



Q: How do you feel about the trend of teams not valuing running backs as much as they did in the past?
A: "I don't like that. Definitely, I feel like they think the running back spot is going extinct for some reason. They definitely need us. I'm definitely going to make sure they know that when I step on the field that they made a good pick and running backs aren't going extinct."



Q: Would you have changed positions if you knew later down the road we’d be seeing this trend with running backs?
A: "Tell me about it. Nowadays, they're like you've got to go second, third round. I'm like, 'Why in the hell didn't you tell me this a couple of years ago, that running backs are going extinct?' I'm definitely OK with it. I'm just trying to bring back and to show we're definitely valuable. But I definitely would have went to corner or something. Shoot."



Q: Were you surprised you didn't receive more consideration for the Heisman Trophy? It seemed no one was paying attention to you much of the season.
A: "I think it's East Coast bias. I'm sorry everybody. You guys are sleeping on us. You guys are asleep at the time we're playing, and I don't blame you, I'd be asleep too. I like to get my sleep."



Q: What if you are drafted by a place that has cold weather like Cleveland?
A: "Being born and raised in Arizona, and our weather is always sunny and nice. It's always hot. Playing somewhere like Cleveland would be interesting and fun; definitely will test out my game and my talents. I feel comfortable. I played in Washington in some rain and that's the first time ever I played in rain. I had a good game and I was excited to be there. It just motivated me more."



Q: Did people advise you to leave school early?
A: "They definitely were in my ear, saying you have a limited numbers of hits and running backs, you need to go while you have the chance. I know that I could have come back and played another year, got bigger and stronger and dominated at that level. But my decision was I was ready for the league. I felt like I was ready a year ago but I just couldn't leave. I stayed consistent this year, and really proved to me that I was ready to provide for my family."



Q: What are the scouts going to find out about you as a pass blocker?
A: "They are going to find an aggressive, hard-nosed [player] that will hit you right under your chin. I'm going to tell you right now, I need more technique in pass blocking. I have no problem with picking up the blitz and delivering the hit."



Q: What would you need to run in the 40 to answer questions about your speed?
A: "A 4.5 would be just solid, knowing that I've got that getaway speed and the film speaks for the rest. They feel comfortable with the way I play. They just want to know if I can get away from that last defender and actually bring the 6 points home." [Carey ran a 4.7 official 40-yard dash at the combine.]



Q: How has the combine experience been for you?
A: "I'm enjoying this. I get to speak to the coaches. They get to see my personality. Being from the West, they don't know too much about me, so this is a great opportunity for me to get here and get comfortable and be myself and they can see who I am."



Q: Is there a particular coach you are looking forward to meeting?
A: "Definitely coach Andy Reid. He is the best coach ever. Once I get to see him, shake his hand, and sit in a meeting with him, everything is going to be all gravy. I was a big Eagles fan growing up. I loved the way he did everything with Brian Westbrook. I just love the way he coaches."



Q: What’s the best advice you've received and who gave it to you?
A: "Just walk around with a big smile. Be happy about each day because it can be taken away tomorrow. That was just by mom. So I walk around with a big smile every day. This is a blessing."



Q: Where do you get your confidence?
A: "Maybe classes that I had to take at the University of Arizona. Little classes, we'd get in a little circle, like therapy or something. We'll just talk about our life. That's where I got really confident in being myself."



Q: What were your favorite classes?
A: "The ones that I was just talking about. Just getting to know everybody in class, where they are coming from, and their life story. It's helped me become the person I am. You really can't judge everybody. And there's not too much to do in Tucson. I run, I hike. I walk my dogs. I like to get out and play two-hand touch football. Coach Rich Rod didn't like that. But I had to keep it on the low. I can say it now because I'm away from him.'



Q: What kind of dogs you have?
A: "A Maltese Yorkie, and then I have two pit bulls."
The Chicago Bears agreed to terms on Sunday with nine undrafted rookie free agents.

Here’s the list:

RB Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois

DT Brandon Dunn, Louisville

OG Ryan Groy, Wisconsin

OG James Dunbar, Texas Christian

LB Tana Patrick, Alabama

LB Christian Jones, Florida State

DT Lee Pegues, East Carolina

OT Cody Booth, Temple

LB Devekeyan Lattimore, South Florida
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Undrafted former Northern Illinois quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist Jordan Lynch has agreed to sign a rookie free-agent deal with the Chicago Bears, according to his agent Cliff Brady.

Lynch, a graduate of Mt. Carmel High School, started two years for the Huskies and led the school to a 24-4 overall record. He finished his college career with 6,209 passing yards, 51 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions. Lynch also rushed for 4,343 yards and 48 touchdowns.

He worked at multiple positions in front of scouts at the NFL combine.

The Bears decline to confirm stories about undrafted free agents until their contracts are officially signed.
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- A wrap-up of the Minnesota Vikings' draft. Click here for a full list of Vikings draftees.

[+] EnlargeTeddy Bridgewater
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesQuarterback Teddy Bridgewater should have an opportunity to develop behind Matt Cassel in Minnesota's system.
Best move: Getting Teddy Bridgewater at the end of the first round could turn out to be a coup for the Vikings. Minnesota gets a player who was projected as the No. 1 overall pick at one point, and they'll have extra time to work with him, thanks to the fifth-year option automatically added to his contract. Bridgewater will get a chance to develop, with Matt Cassel likely to start, and there won't be the same pressure to put him on the field as if he'd been a top-10 pick. The move could turn out to be a steal for the Vikings.

Riskiest move: The Vikings' Day 2 selection of Georgia Southern running back Jerick McKinnon represents something of a gamble. McKinnon was a triple-option quarterback in college after starting his career as a cornerback and will need to learn the techniques of the running back position in the NFL. He drew comparisons to Brian Mitchell and Darren Sproles -- two diminutive weapons from offensive coordinator Norv Turner's past -- and his impressive athletic ability could make the Vikings' use of a third-round pick worthwhile.

Most surprising move: The Vikings were still in need of more help at the cornerback position but didn't address it until the third day of the draft, on which they took three players -- Virginia Tech safety Antone Exum, Maine cornerback Kendall James and North Carolina cornerback Jabari Price -- in the sixth and seventh rounds. Those players will get a chance to compete for playing time, but the Vikings are still short on proven cornerbacks behind Captain Munnerlyn and promising second-year corner Xavier Rhodes.

File it away: Stanford guard David Yankey was projected to go in the first three rounds of the draft but was still there for the Vikings in the fifth round. He'd been on the radar of Vikings offensive line coach Jeff Davidson for years after playing in college with Davidson's son, Nick, and could push Charlie Johnson for playing time at left guard. The Vikings' scouting report on Yankey describes him as a "classic mauler-type, typically taking big arm swipes to wear down and batter his opponent." He could eventually give the Vikings another good run-blocker to play next to John Sullivan and Brandon Fusco.

Chicago Bears draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
May 10
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- A wrap-up of the Chicago Bears’ draft. Click here for a full list of Bears' draftees.

Bears general manager Phil Emery likes to say a team can never expect to fill all of its needs via the draft. Well, eight draft choices later, the Bears actually came close.

Best move: Taking defensive tackles Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton with consecutive picks on Day 2. We don’t know if Ferguson or Sutton will pan out, but the Bears had to keep strengthening the defensive line after last season. Ferguson and Sutton join new faces Jared Allen, Lamarr Houston, Willie Young, Austen Lane, Trevor Scott and Israel Idonije, who is back for his second tour of duty. The Bears also re-signed tackles Jeremiah Ratliff and Nate Collins to help fortify the trenches on defense.

[+] EnlargeKa'Deem Casey
Casey Sapio/USA TODAY SportsArizona running back Ka'Deem Carey, a fourth-round pick by the Bears, has some question marks in terms of off-the-field incidents.
This reminds me of how Emery & Co. rebuilt the offensive line last offseason.

Riskiest move: Arizona running back Ka’Deem Carey’s (fourth round) on-field production speaks for itself: 4,239 yards, 48 rushing touchdowns and 77 receptions for 679 yards in three years for the Wildcats.

However, there are questions about Carey that extended beyond the football field. The 5-9, 207-pound tailback reportedly had multiple run-ins with the authorities, including a charge of assaulting his pregnant ex-girlfriend that was later dismissed.

Carey depicted himself as a high-character individual when he spoke to Chicago media members following his selection by the Bears at No. 117.

“As you guys are going to get to know me over the years; I’m an outgoing [person] who loves kids and is light-hearted,” Carey said. “I would never do anything to harm people. I’m a loveful cat.”

Emery is not afraid to draft or acquire players with questionable character. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall has rewarded Emery’s faith in him by posting consecutive Pro Bowl seasons. On the flip side, 2012 fourth-round pick Evan Rodriguez lasted only one season before being cut after multiple run-ins with the law last offseason.

Most surprising move: Emery told reporters before the draft that he rejected the notion of drafting a developmental quarterback in the later rounds with the intent of grooming him to be a future starter.

The Bears selected San Jose State quarterback David Fales in the sixth round (183).

Go figure.

File it away: Time will tell if the Bears regret passing on a safety in the first round.

The organization continued its longstanding tradition of waiting until the later rounds to address the position when they moved back into the fourth round and traded away a pair of fifth-round selections to grab Minnesota’s Brock Vereen at 131. Vereen does have an excellent NFL pedigree. His brother, Shane, a standout running back, was selected in the second round of the 2011 NFL draft by the New England Patriots. Their father, Henry, was drafted by the Bucs in 1979.

Vereen is a versatile player who lined up at all four defensive back spots over the course of his career with the Golden Gophers. He started 36 games and registered 200 tackles, four interceptions, 7.5 tackles-for-loss and one blocked kick.

“Brock is one of the smartest and most versatile players I have ever had the privilege of coaching and is an outstanding young man,” Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill said. “He is the ultimate team player and will do whatever is needed to help the Bears win. I know he is going to make Chicago a better team and will also be a great teammate in the locker room.”

But you can argue the Bears are in this mess at safety because the organization doesn't put a high enough value on the position.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The Minnesota Vikings made four picks on the first two days of the NFL draft. Their first one was a running back who posted 13.5 sacks in just his second year as a defensive end, and their last one was a cornerback-turned-triple-option-quarterback who will try his hand at running back in the NFL. Their third pick of the draft added a versatile, energetic pass rusher to a defensive line that already has several of those, and their second pick staked the future of their franchise on a 22-year-old quarterback who slid from the top of the first round to the bottom of it.

If the Vikings had entered the 2014 draft merely with the idea of patching holes on their roster after a 5-10-1 season, this wouldn't necessarily have been the way to go about it. But what has been clear in the first two days of the draft is that the Vikings are after something else: a group full of young, athletically-gifted players who only need a coaching staff to unlock the potential. This draft has been a bet on the ability of Mike Zimmer's coaching staff to develop talent, as much as defensive end Everson Griffen's contract represented a $20 million wager on the same idea, and the Vikings seem plenty confident in what their new coaches will be able to get out of the group.

"That kind of really excites me anyway," Zimmer said. "I love taking guys with talent and coaching that, because those kind of guys you can take them a lot further. The guys who don’t have as much talent and are good you can make them better players. But these kind of guys [like first-round pick Anthony Barr], you know, he played two years at running back and then moved over to linebacker and had a really good year the year before and then a good year again this year. He is still learning a lot of different things and we will be able to teach him a lot."

The shift has been particularly evident on defense, where Zimmer has had the biggest impact and where the Vikings plan to shift to a more aggressive style of play. But it hasn't been confined to that side of the ball. Third-round pick Jerick McKinnon, the Georgia Southern quarterback, wowed teams at the NFL scouting combine with a 4.41 40-yard dash, a 40 1/2-inch vertical and 32 bench press repetitions at 225 pounds (or more than twice as many as Barr did). Then he performed what Spielman called one of the longest and most interesting workouts he'd ever seen, working as a running back, a punt returner and a cornerback at Georgia Southern. Spielman said offensive coordinator Norv Turner compared the 5-foot-9 McKinnon to dynamos like Brian Mitchell and Darren Sproles, and while the Vikings certainly aren't looking for someone to supplant Adrian Peterson, McKinnon could give them something they haven't had in a long time.

The Vikings' draft strategy so far has been full of gambles -- and as impressive as Teddy Bridgewater's college resume is, taking a quarterback in the first round always carries considerable risk. But on the first two days of the draft, the Vikings haven't been confined by position or convention, and the payoff could be a roster full of unique players.

"I get really intrigued if they are great kids and hard workers, but if they have athletic ability and if they're great athletes, that just intrigues me," Spielman said. "And I know it intrigues the coaches, because they love to work with guys like that."
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The pick: Jerick McKinnon, running back, Georgia Southern

My take: With their final pick (96th overall) in the third round, the Minnesota Vikings took a backup for Adrian Peterson. They needed one after Toby Gerhart signed with Jacksonville in the offseason. McKinnon will give them something different than they've had in the past. He began his college career as a cornerback, shifting to quarterback in Georgia Southern's triple-option offense. He's only 5-foot-9, but had quite the set of numbers at the NFL scouting combine (a 4.41 40, a 40 1/2-inch vertical and 32 repetitions at 225 pounds in the bench press). The Vikings' scouting report lists him as a "tailback/quarterback/strong safety," but if he stays at running back, he'd be an interesting change of pace from Peterson.

Plenty of versatility: McKinnon will have plenty to learn about playing running back at the NFL level, but he could be the kind of player the Vikings can use all over their offense. Offensive coordinator Norv Turner helped put jack-of-all-trades running back Darren Sproles on the map in San Diego, and though McKinnon was throwing more passes than catching them in college, he could be the kind of versatile, elusive back that Sproles has been. The Vikings aren't in need of a kick returner, but McKinnon could give them another option there if anything were to happen to Cordarrelle Patterson.

What's next: The Vikings don't have a fourth-round pick, but are scheduled to make four selections on the final day of the draft -- two in the fifth round, one in the sixth and one in the seventh.
videoEDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- The pick: Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State

My take: The Vikings went back to addressing their defense with their first pick on the second day of the draft, selecting Crichton with the 72nd overall pick. The Vikings still need depth at cornerback, but new coach Mike Zimmer loves a strong rotation on the defensive line, and Crichton will give the team another disruptive rusher on the edge of their line. He had 22.5 sacks in his past three seasons at Oregon State, and posted another 51 tackles for loss. He was rated as the seventh-best defensive end by Scouts, Inc., earning praise for his speed and constant hustle. He's got a quick first step, like free-agent acquisition Corey Wootton, and he'll help keep the Vikings' energy level up on the defensive line throughout games.

Playing for his family: Playing in the NFL, Crichton said in February, is an opportunity to take care of them. "My mom works two jobs, and my dad is disabled and still works a job, too. I want them to retire and just stop working. I just did this for my family. I was going to come back to college [for my senior season] but just to see my family struggle -- we didn't have much growing up, and to see my family struggle, I wasn't OK with that."

What's next: The Vikings have the final pick of the third round -- the 96th overall selection, which they received from Seattle to complete last year's Percy Harvin trade.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Statistics can be deceiving.

The Chicago Bears clearly looked beyond LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson's modest career collegiate numbers (12 career starts, 85 tackles, five tackles-for-loss and one sack) when drafting him at No. 51 overall.

They obviously believe the 6-foot-3, 315-pound Ferguson will add fresh legs to an already decent rotation at defensive tackle that includes veterans Jeremiah Ratliff, Nate Collins and Stephen Paea. Because the Bears are so high on Ratliff at three-technique, general manager Phil Emery didn't have to necessarily find a Week 1 starting interior defensive lineman in the draft.

After Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman and Florida State's Timmy Jernigan were taken off the board, Ferguson was the next best option in the Bears' mind.

He can stop the run. Ferguson had 58 tackles in 2013 when he was named honorable mention All-SEC. Not to be redundant, but the Bears are determined to find players that thrive in run support.

Word is Ferguson still needs to develop better interior pass-rushing skills.

"You always need to work," Ferguson said Friday night. "I need to improve on pass-rush and my spin move. But one thing I always bring is my heart and my competitive nature. [I'll do] whatever it takes and for however long it takes to win."

Second-round picks are expected to contribute in Year 1, but Ferguson has the luxury of working on his technique with veteran Bears defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni until he's ready to be thrust into a starting role.

Ferguson told reporters at Halas Hall he had a positive meeting with Pasqualoni when he visited the Bears before his pro day.

"[Pasqualoni] has a great personality and he brought me to the office and we were talking ball for a long time," Ferguson said. "He asked me if I can play that two-technique, can I do it? He said that's what the Bears want me for. He showed a lot of interest."

Pasqualoni was an important hire for the Bears in the offseason. With more than 40 years of coaching experience, he is the perfect person to coach up younger defensive linemen that may possess above-average traits, but have yet to garner above-average success.

The Bears are counting on Pasqualoni to refine Ferguson's pass-rushing technique; just as Rod Marinelli did with Israel Idonije, Henry Melton and Corey Wootton before the veteran coach departed for Dallas after the Chicago Bears fired Lovie Smith.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- One of the biggest melodramas of the NFL draft season -- Teddy Bridgewater's decision not to throw with a glove during his pro day after using one during most of his college career -- is apparently over.

[+] EnlargeTeddy Bridgewater
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsAfter a shaky tryout without them, Teddy Bridgewater is bringing his gloves with him to Minnesota.
Bridgewater put his gloves back on for his private workout with the Minnesota Vikings in April and fared much better than he did during his pro day. He learned something, coach Mike Zimmer said, about staying true to what worked for him. And now that he's preparing to play his first two seasons outside at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium, Bridgewater said the gloves are staying on.

"You can best believe I'll continue to wear my gloves," he said during his introductory press conference at the Vikings' team facility Friday.

The quarterback said the gloves help him grip the ball better, and he'll use them as he adjusts to the Vikings' temporary move outdoors, as well as yearly road games in Green Bay and Chicago. Bridgewater has never started a game in freezing temperatures, and one point of concern in the pre-draft process was his small hand size; his hand span is only 9 1/4 inches, and no quarterback with hands that small has made the Pro Bowl since 2008, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

"I think it won't be a big adjustment at all," Bridgewater said of the cold weather. "I think we'll be able to use that to our advantage here in Minnesota. It's a mental thing and I'll just block it out and continue to play."

Bridgewater started wearing gloves as a freshman at Louisville, he said, and his former coach Charlie Strong recalled Bridgewater keeping them on through a driving rainstorm in a win over Southern Miss during his sophomore season.

"I said, 'Can you grip the ball?,' and he said, 'Yeah, coach,'" Strong said Friday. "It's a thunderstorm, there's water on the field and he made a couple of big-time throws in the rain with the glove on. It was something he had grown accustomed to, and he just wore it all the time."

He'll continue to do so in the NFL, after the decision not to use them during his pro day led to an untold amount of scrutiny over a seemingly small detail.

"I was listening to him [Thursday] doing an interview and he said one thing it taught him was to stay true to yourself," Zimmer said. "He plays all of these times wearing a glove and he comes out on his pro day, supposedly the biggest day, which really isn’t. The 44 games he played in college are the biggest days, this is just one day to show off in front of the NFL Network and everything. He said,'You just learn to stay true to yourself' And then he came out with us with the glove and threw it all over the place."
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The pick: Ego Ferguson, defensive tackle, LSU

My take: The Chicago Bears continued to stack the chips on defense Friday night in the second round of the NFL draft with the 51st overall pick. The Bears re-signed veteran defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff in free agency, and he's capable of playing both the nose and three-technique spot. But Ratliff can play only one position at a time. So the addition of Ferguson here makes sense. Going into the draft, the Chicago's roster featured just three defensive tackles in Nate Collins (coming off a torn ACL), Stephen Paea (missed three games due to a nagging toe injury) and Ratliff. Recent signees Israel Idonije and Lamarr Houston can play outside and inside, but the Bears needed an inside presence. Like most young players, Ferguson is raw in term of his technique and has a tendency to play high at times.

It's unknown whether Ferguson is an instant starter on Chicago's defensive line. But the fact the group possesses so many accomplished veterans bodes well for Ferguson's transition to the pro game.

Ferguson played 38 games at LSU, and finished his career with 85 tackles and only one sack. But his physical skillset matches up well with a one-gap scheme such as Chicago's.

Ferguson didn't become a starter at LSU until 2012.

Social media savvy: After the 2013 season, Ferguson announced on Instagram that he wouldn't be returning for his senior college season. "First off, I want to thank God without him none of this would be possible," he posted. "I also want to thank my parents for always being in my corner since day one. I want to thank coaches too for giving me the chance to play in front of the best fans in college football. These past four years have been amazing. Without my teammates I don't know where I would be right now. They were more than teammates, they were my bruddas. After talking to my parents and praying about this decision I decided to enter the 2014 NFL draft #blessed #squad #family first."

What's next: The Bears will likely continue to bolster the defense with their third round pick. The Bears addressed a need at cornerback in the first round, and defensive tackle in the second. It's expected the club will look to add at safety or linebacker in the third round.
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LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The pick: Ego Ferguson, defensive tackle, LSU

My take: The Chicago Bears continued to stack the chips on defense Friday night in the second round of the NFL draft with the 51st overall pick. The Bears re-signed veteran defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff in free agency, and he's capable of playing both the nose and 3-technique spot. But Ratliff can play only one position at a time. So the addition of Ferguson here makes sense. Going into the draft, Chicago's roster featured just three defensive tackles in Nate Collins (coming off a torn ACL), Stephen Paea (missed three games due to a nagging toe injury) and Ratliff. Recent signees Israel Idonije and Lamarr Houston can play outside and inside, but the Bears needed an inside presence. Like most young players, Ferguson is raw in term of his technique and has a tendency to play high at times.

It's unknown whether Ferguson is an instant starter on Chicago's defensive line. But the fact the group possesses so many accomplished veterans bodes well for Ferguson's transition to the pro game.

Ferguson played 38 games at LSU, and finished his career with 85 tackles and only one sack. But his physical skill set matches up well with a one-gap scheme such as Chicago's.

Ferguson didn't become a starter at LSU until 2012.

Social media savvy: After the 2013 season, Ferguson announced on Instagram that he wouldn't be returning for his senior college season. "First off, I want to thank God without him none of this would be possible," he posted. "I also want to thank my parents for always being in my corner since day one. I want to thank coaches too for giving me the chance to play in front of the best fans in college football. These past four years have been amazing. Without my teammates I don't know where I would be right now. They were more than teammates, they were my bruddas. After talking to my parents and praying about this decision I decided to enter the 2014 NFL draft #blessed #squad #family first."

What's next: The Bears will likely continue to bolster the defense with their third-round pick. The Bears addressed a need at cornerback in the first round, and defensive tackle in the second. It's expected the club will look to add at safety or linebacker in the third round.
ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- Eric Ebron had been a Detroit Lion for less than 24 hours when he stood up at the podium, looked out at the media, looked down at the recorders taping his every word Friday afternoon and was still in amazement.

On Wednesday afternoon, he was a man waiting for a team and still in a relationship. By Thursday night, he was officially in the National Football League and a newly engaged man. So there are wind storms, whirlwinds and then things that can completely spin your head.

"This all seems fake right now," Ebron said at his introductory press conference. "Like, I'm not even here. Ever since I woke up."

[+] EnlargeEric Ebron
AP Photo/Craig RuttleEric Ebron became engaged and a top-10 draft pick all in one day.
Somewhat surprisingly to everyone but the Detroit Lions, he was in Michigan on Friday afternoon as the second tight end the team has spent a first-round pick on in the past six seasons. And it all started in New York City the day before.

The pick was criticized in the immediate aftermath of the selection, but Ebron paid little attention to that. He was too happy to care. Too happy to talk about anything negative on what was the best personal and professional day of his life Thursday.

See, Ebron not only became a NFL player on Thursday night, he picked up a fiancée, too, finalizing something he thought about for months and then planned for weeks. That began Thursday morning, when Ebron convinced his then-girlfriend, Brittany Rountree, that a visit to the Empire State Building was part of his schedule of events on draft day.

Rountree thought something was different, but in the elevator on the way up near the top of the building, Ebron calmed her down. Told her to "go with the flow.” To relax. This was how he made her feel comfortable, what turned a friendship that began at freshman orientation at North Carolina to a drama class taken together to a friendship and then a relationship.

Now, two years later, they were headed to an uncertain future together in an elevator.

"I was still trying to figure out what was going on,” Rountree said Friday. "Like why are we here.”

She'd find out. They reached the top and Ebron dropped to one knee, proposing to his girlfriend. She cried a little bit. It would be the only thing that could top what would come later. For Ebron, there is some symmetry to this. He lived for a while in the shadows of the building he proposed in, in the city that his life would change in.

Ebron was born in northern New Jersey and spent the first few years of his life in Newark, New Jersey, where his father works for the school district. So it fit, somewhat, that his father, Eric Ebron Sr., would get stuck in traffic Thursday heading from Jersey to Manhattan. That is, after all, all too typical of traveling into New York City.

Ebron Sr., like his son, would head to Radio City Music Hall, where the name Eric Ebron would be read by former Lions running back Barry Sanders with the No. 10 pick. When Ebron heard his name and saw Sanders, he didn't want to let go.

"Wooooo,” Ebron said Friday. "When he walked up there, I was like, whoever gets this pick, man, look. I didn't want to start hugging the man but I had to a little bit.

"We was on television. I didn't want nobody else to miss their pick so I had to let him go.”

He did and after Ebron went through his required post-pick duties and interviews, he and his family went to Tao, not far from Radio City Music Hall, for a late dinner and celebration with his family. Then he slept for about 90 minutes before waking up, jumping on a plane with his family and heading to his new home in Detroit.

That was the last 24 hours of Ebron -- a 24 hours that completely shifted his life.

"We're finally here. We are finally here,” Ebron's mother, Gina Jackson, said. "I knew this moment would come. He just stayed hungry and stayed humble and do what he had to do.

"We are here. Like, 'Yes, dreams do come true.'"
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Three years ago, the Minnesota Vikings took Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder with the 12th overall pick in the draft, setting in motion a chain of events that ended -- or at least crossed the start/finish line for a second lap -- on Thursday night, when they spent the 32nd overall pick on Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, hoping to give new coach Mike Zimmer a better solution at quarterback than they gave former coach Leslie Frazier.

[+] EnlargeTeddy Bridgewater
Andy Lyons/Getty ImagesWith QB Christian Ponder mostly ineffective in his three seasons in Minnesota, the team will be looking to quickly develop Teddy Bridgewater.
It was no surprise at all the Vikings would take a quarterback high in the 2014 draft, after emerging from the rubble of what turned out to be a disappointing 2011 quarterback class. What was interesting, though, was how much company they had in making a quick pivot at the position.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and Cleveland Browns became just the fourth, fifth and sixth teams in the common draft era to take a quarterback in the first round for the second time in three years. Before Thursday night, it had never happened twice in the same draft, and it hadn't happened at all since 2005, when the Washington Redskins took Jason Campbell three years after drafting Patrick Ramsey.

There are multiple reasons why it's easier to move on from quarterbacks after the 2011 collective bargaining agreement than it used to be, but the structure of the current CBA -- and the profound changes it's enacted on rookie contracts -- might also be driving teams to be less patient. Gone are the days of contracts like the six-year, $78 million deal the St. Louis Rams had to give No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford in 2010.

It's much less cost-prohibitive to replace a quarterback, with both salaries and contract guarantees down significantly for young players, and there's also an incentive to get players on the field sooner. Four of the final six teams playing last season -- the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Carolina Panthers and Indianapolis Colts -- all had quarterbacks playing in their rookie deals, and all four got high-level quarterback play at a price that allowed them to spend money on other players. Those teams all have bills coming due for Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck, respectively, but they've combined to get seven playoff appearances out of those players while ranking in the bottom half of the league in quarterback spending.

With quarterbacks directing more complex offenses in college and high school, it's easier to expect more out of them at a young age, and while the Vikings have talked about wanting Bridgewater to sit this season, it wouldn't be surprising if they want to have him on the field by 2015. They've got a little extra time, thanks to the fifth-year option that will automatically be added to his contract after they took him in the first round, but one of the best tools in roster construction these days is to have good quarterback play at below-market cost.

If the Vikings can capitalize on those years from Bridgewater, they'll be in great shape to put a playoff team around him. If they can't? Well, as Ponder can attest, it isn't expensive to be impatient in today's NFL.
Timmy JerniganMelina Vastola/USA TODAY SportsFlorida State DT Timmy Jernigan was viewed as a first-round talent in early mock drafts.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears knocked out a need at cornerback on Thursday in Round 1 of the NFL draft with the selection of Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller, and on Friday the team will stick to the plan of replenishing the defense in Rounds 2 and 3.

Despite perhaps more pressing needs at safety and linebacker, the Bears took a versatile cornerback in the first round. What's encouraging for the next two rounds is that this year's draft class is so deep, the Bears could still find players in need areas capable of contributing significantly as rookies.

[+] EnlargeEd Reynolds
AP Photo/Tony AvelarStanford safety Ed Reynolds makes sense for the Bears in the third round.
The Bears pick 51st and 82nd overall in the next two rounds, and with options aplenty on Day 2, I'd use the second-round pick on the best defensive tackle available since that position represents the best value. I'm more partial to Florida State's Timmy Jernigan (I don't care about the alleged failed drug test) or Notre Dame's Louis Nix than a boom-or-bust prospect such as Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman.

Then, in the third round, I'd look to add competition safety with a long, rangy prospect such as Stanford's Ed Reynolds.

Looking at the players still on the board, the Bears have several options available at defensive tackle in Jernigan, Notre Dame's Nix and Stephon Tuitt, Hageman, and perhaps even later in the draft with players such as LSU's Ego Ferguson, South Carolina's Kelcy Quarles and Princeton's Caraun Reid.

At safety, the Bears should strongly consider Reynolds. He picked off seven passes over the past two years and has an NFL pedigree, from his father, Ed Sr., who played linebacker in the NFL for 10 years. Dion Bailey of Southern Cal could be another option for the Bears at safety, perhaps in the third round, and Wyoming's Marqueston Huff is a potential pick even later (six double-digit tackle games; 20 stops against Utah State).

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Linebacker options are abundant, too. Brigham Young's Kyle Van Noy racked up 62 tackles for lost yardage over four years in college; he projects as a Sam linebacker in Chicago's scheme. Florida State's Christian Jones and Telvin Smith are also athletic possibilities for perhaps later in the draft.

Keep an eye out for Connecticut's Yawin Smallwood, who posted 332 career tackles and 9.5 sacks in college and met with the Bears at the NFL combine. New Bears defensive line coach Paul Pasqualoni is familiar with Smallwood, having served as head coach at Connecticut from 2011 to '13. Pasqualoni told the Hartford Courant, "[What] I really like about [Smallwood], which I think is a strength, is that he doesn't process what he sees. He just goes. Some guys look at it and they hesitate, then they go. He's not a process guy. He's a read-and-react guy, which is a big part of that position."

Perhaps Chicago general manager Phil Emery will pull one of his usual surprise picks and grab an offensive player. That wouldn't be too much of a stretch, because the benefit of a class this deep is that the Bears can legitimately find ways to address needs throughout all seven rounds.

Emery has been high on Texas Tech tight end Jace Amaro, who runs a 4.6-second 40-yard dash and made 106 catches last season.

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