In typical fashion, Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery took a second-round flier on a player with a lot of upside. With the 51st pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Emery selected former LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson.
We scouted Ferguson before the draft. Here is our evaluation:
"Of all the early-round defensive tackles, Ferguson may have the most potential. He's a raw athlete with only one year's starting experience and is not a Day 1 starter. He doesn't have much of a pass-rush arsenal and lacks ideal strength (24 bench-press reps). That said, Ferguson has ideal size, speed and balance. He shows good awareness against the run and the ability to shoot gaps as a 3-technique. He had limited impact for the Tigers last year (1.0 sack) but scouts see him as a player with high upside if put in the right position."
Ferguson (6-2, 315) has very little experience and production but his skill set is very attractive. His role for the Tigers was as a space-eating nose tackle, which partially explains his less-than-ideal stats his junior year (1.0 sack, 3.5 tackles for loss).
For the Bears, Ferguson could play either the nose or 3-technique. He has experience clogging lanes in the run game, yet film shows a player quick enough to penetrate one gap and be disruptive in the backfield.
Very likely, he'll slowly work his way into the defensive line rotation at both positions. He also has experience at defensive end, so don't be surprised if he gets reps on the edge as well. That type of positional versatility was obviously very attractive to the Bears, who passed on a number of quality defensive tackles to select Ferguson.
He's not a Day 1 starter but if Ferguson reaches his ceiling, he'll develop into a quality starting defensive tackle within the next two years.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. He is in his fourth season covering the Chicago Bears full time. Follow Bear Report on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Bear Report Web site or magazine, click here.