The departures of Brian Urlacher (you just may have heard about this) and Nick Roach earlier in the offseason left the Bears needing to fill two starting linebacker voids for 2013. So, Bears general manager Phil Emery went out and signed two potential starters in veteran free-agent linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson. Williams is a capable starting middle linebacker, where Urlacher of course played, and Anderson is a capable starter at strong-side linebacker, the position Roach played in the Bears' defense.

But, make no mistake about it: These moves were made by Emery with the short-term in mind only. Plug-in moves. The linebacker market wasn't very friendly this offseason, with no clear long-term answers out there.

Therefore, even after the Williams and Anderson signings, it was assumed that linebacker would be one one of the Bears' top positional focuses in the 2013 NFL Draft. And what was really nice about those signings is it gave Emery the chance to find draft prospects that don't have to start right away; players that have plenty of skill but may need to refine some parts of their game to be comfortably inserted in as a starter. That's not at all to say that the potential draft picks would not compete for starting jobs in training camp, but that you now have the luxury of them developing behind proven veterans in Williams and Anderson.

The linebackers that got the most pre-draft talk about the Bears drafting in rounds one or two were Alec Ogletree, Arthur Brown, Manti Te'o, and Kevin Minter.

Ogletree was the highest-rated linebacker in this draft by most experts, and indeed ended up being the first linebacker selected, going No. 30 overall to the Rams. As I wrote in my Kyle Long draft grade post, Ogletree was by far the player most mock drafts had going to the Bears. However, the Bears were obviously higher on Long, and the way the draft was unfolding, surely felt that they could still find one of the linebackers they were coveting when their second-round pick at No. 50 overall came along. Additionally, there were concerns about Ogletree's ability to play middle linebacker (many think he it's just not going to happen) which would certainly lower his value (it's much easier to find quality strong-side and weak-side linebacker than middle linebackers), and the guy got a DUI just days before the 2013 NFL Combine, something that is just immeasurably stupid.

Brown is a guy I'm personally very high on, but there's concerns about his size and overall skill-set translating well to the NFL level, especially at the middle linebacker position (like Ogletree). The Bears ended up not just passing on him with their first-round pick, but with their second-round pick as well, as Brown slid all the way to No. 56 to the Ravens. The fact Brown slid all the way to No. 56 shows that the Bears were not the only team that had concerns about him.

The stock of Te'o dropped considerably in recent months, with the whole fake girlfriend saga (likely) having little to do with that. The tape of Te'o looking absolutely awful in the National Championship Game against Alabama, and following that up with an unimpressive NFL Combine performance, made him slide down teams' draft boards much more than the Lennay Kekua crap did. Te'o would've been a reach at No. 20, and was selected at No. 38 in the second round by the Chargers, before the Bears would've had a chance to get him.

Minter's measurables didn't impress at the Combine either, and he's widely considered a two-down linebacker. And like Te'o, he would've been a reach at No. 20, and was already gone (No. 45 to the Cardinals) when the Bears' turn to select came in the second round.

Even if Te'o and Minter were still on the board at No. 50, I don't think the Bears would've taken either of them. In Emery's pre-draft press conference, this is what he said in regards to the kind of players he was looking for in the draft:

“(We want) players that are high-end dynamic athletes that can do a lot of things."

It's something Emery has frequently made a point of in terms of the type of players he's looking to acquire. And the point stood true with his selection of highly-athletic (the highest-graded guard in the Bears' athletic index measurements over the last dozen years), versatile offensive lineman Kyle Long in the first round.

With all this in mind, it shouldn't at all be a surprise that Emery chose to use the Bears' second-round pick on Florida linebacker Jon Bostic, whom the Bears ranked as the best athlete among inside linebackers in this year's draft, and whom the Bears feel is a versatile, three-down linebacker:

"We brought him in for a visit and we felt very good about his football aptitude and his ability to line everybody else up on the field," Emery said. It's extremely important at the end of the day because it separated him from some others, and obviously the more football-smart the players we bring in, the better we're going to be.

"That lends him towards flexibility as a football player and being able to say, 'Hey, I've been practicing the 'Mike' 'backer, but I'm a smart individual. I understand the other two positions. 'Sam' goes down for 10 plays, they can plug me right in because I have a very good football aptitude and know how to adjust."
"The reason we like Jon, he's a three-position linebacker," Emery said. "It was very important that if we were going to take a linebacker in the second round that we get somebody who could immediately fill in in all three spots if one of our starters was not available due to injury and we would have a good football player in place."
Source: ChicagoBears.Com

Bostic played four years at Florida, starting there three of those years. Over that time (51 games), he totaled 237 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, and five interceptions.

The 6'1", 245-pound linebacker ran a 4.61 40-yard dash at the Combine, the third-best linebacker time. He also finished tied for the third-best linebacker time in the three-cone drill (6.99), and the fourth-best linebacker time in the 20-yard shuttle.

Along with being a tremendous athlete for the linebacker positon, Bostic is known as a bone-crushing hitter, as evidenced by his hit on Louisville star quarterback (and potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft) Teddy Bridgewater (picture of that hit above, video below).

Here's NFL.Com's "overview" of Bostic on his draft profile page:

Bostic played well enough as a junior to test the NFL draft waters, but he returned in 2012 as part of a very talented Gators defense. That same unit is loaded with junior talent, but Bostic was one of the true veteran leaders and saw a 7-6 2011 campaign transform into an 11-1 senior season. Bostic is an aggression setter, delivering big hits against opposing ball carriers in the lane or on receivers asked to run shallow crosses.

As one of the top inside linebacker prospects in the nation out of high school, Bostic had his choice of destinations. He arrived in Gainesville a semester early, and the extra work paid off with significant time on the field on special teams and the occasional spot at linebacker (he had 18 tackles on the year). He played every game of his sophomore year, starting the teams' first five games plus the Florida State matchup later on; Bostic intercepted three passes that year in addition to making 57 tackles, 2.5 for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Finally given the reins to the defense as a junior, Bostic led the team with 94 tackles, 10 of which went for loss, and three sacks. As a senior, he tallied 62 total tackles, including 6.5 for loss and three sacks.

And here's their "bottom line" summary of Bostic as an NFL prospect:

Bostic is an absolute hammer in the middle of the Gators defense, especially against the run. He fights to take out blockers and to accomplish his assignment, but when he attacks with his shoulder Bostic fails to make a play on the football.. Even though he’s not as tall as some coaches would like, his production (he led the Gators with 94 tackles as a junior), onfield attitude and instincts for the ball make him a potential mid-round pick and gives him a chance to eventually earn a starting job at the next level.

My Grade: B

After taking Long with the first pick, I really thought the Bears had to address linebacker in the second round, especially with "the run of linebackers" taking place before their pick (Ogletree, Te'o, and Minter off the board). And the Bears didn't have a third-round pick. If you wanted to get one of the better linebacker prospects, a guy that you could legitimately envision starting and being an impact player soon, this was seemingly the spot to do it.

Now, I'm very much against reaching for a need; I'm a "Best Player Available" guy for the most part. But as the Bears' pick approached, Brown and Bostic were notable guys still there, and that's the direction I found myself leaning in regards to my hopeful selection.

However, like the first round, I was hoping the Bears would trade down and acquire another pick or two, unless the player was a talent just too good to pass up. Clearly, the Bears felt Long was that good, even though many thought he would still be around in the late first, early second round. And they apparently felt Bostic was that good. Emery said that there were a couple of trade offers out there, but not any where they felt the value was good enough to pass up on the opportunity to select Bostic.

As I already said, I preferred Brown over Bostic, but I had my concerns about him, with his size and ability to handle middle linebacker in the NFL. And I'll always trust the knowledge of front offices and scouting that spend hour and hour studying these players, much over my own knowledge (and I'd hope you would too). And again, every other team was passing on Brown until the Ravens and their No. 56 pick came along.

I really like this pick, and really think Bostic has a chance to excel in the Bears' defense. He's extremely athletic, has impressive range, and is going to keep the tradition of hard-hitting linebackers going in Chicago. He should be a fan-favorite. He also has proven veteran linebackers such as Williams, Anderson, and some guy named Lance Briggs to learn from. This is a terrific situation for him and his skill-set.

Many considered this pick a reach from Emery, but in a few years, I really doubt that we look at it that way.

Let's go to the links for more on the Bostic selection...

Florida LB Bostic edges out field- Jeff Dickerson takes a look at the Bostic pick with some quotes from Emery. (ESPN Chicago)

Second-round pick pick Jonathan Bostic not worried about filling Brian Urlacher's shoes-

“It’s not pressure at all to me,” Bostic said Friday. “It’s more of a guy that I can pretty much watch and learn a lot of things from on film. [The Bears defense is] going to keep a lot of the scheme and the terminology the same. So I’m just really excited to get out there.” 

“I know [the Bears] have a great tradition at linebacker, especially with the two that actually just left his past year and especially the one that played [in the middle],” Bostic said. “I know it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot studying to do to be able to catch up to the speed of the game.” 
(Chicago Sun-Times)

Bostic brings lot to Bears table- Dan Pompei with a look at the Bostic pick. (Chicago Tribune)

Rapid-reaction: 2nd-round pick Bostic- Michael Wright reacts to the Bostic selection. (ESPN Chicago)

Jon Bostic Video Highlights:

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Before the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times' Mark Potash took a look at 200 NFL mock drafts to see what players the draftniks had the Bears taking with the No. 20 overall pick in the first round:

(Alec) Ogletree was the choice of 56 of the 200 mocks (28 percent), followed by Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert (29, 15.5 percent), Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o (26, 13 percent), Kansas State linebacker Arthur Brown (19, 9.5 percent) and Alabama offensive tackle D.J. Fluker (14, 7 percent).

A total of 26 players were listed as the Bears' pick. Ten of the mock drafts had the Bears trading down to make their first pick: to No. 22, 23, 25 and 31. 

And when the Bears' time to pick presented itself on Thursday night, Alec Ogletree, Tyler Eifert, Manti Te'o, and Arthur Brown were surprisingly all still on the board (D.J. Fluker was drafted 10th overall by the Chargers). So, it seemed that if the Bears didn't trade down (something I personally thought was the most likely scenario), they'd be picking one of the aforementioned prospects.

However, the Bears didn't pick any of those players, and didn't even take a player listed on any of the 200 mock drafts Potash studied.

The Bears instead stunned the draftniks and Bears fans alike by selecting Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long at No. 20. The response from many people was immediately, "Who"?

Long, 24, is one of Howie Long's sons (you likely know Chris Long, the Rams' defensive end), and measured in at the NFL Combine at 6'6", 313 pounds. The Bears plan to use Long at guard (which in my opinion was the biggest positional need for the Bears entering the draft) for the immediate future, but he could eventually move outside on the line to a tackle position.

NFL Network's draft guru Mike Mayock had this to say about Long after the Bears' selection:

"He's one of my favorite players in the draft. He's immediately a starting guard that down the road is a starting tackle."

Long was considered a second-round prospect by most, but many think he wouldn't have been there when the Bears are set to pick at No. 50. And Phil Emery made it clear in his press conference (more on that below) late Thursday night that they targeted Long for the last two weeks and weren't going to let him (potentially) get away.

Here's the overview on Long from his NFL.Com draft profile page:

Long looked to be on the road to professional success as a two-sport high school star in Charlottesville, Va. The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long (84 sacks in 13 seasons) and brother of Chris Long (the No. 2 overall pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2008), had the freakish size and athleticism to excel as an all-state baseball pitcher and first baseman, as well as an offensive and defensive lineman for back-to-back state champions at St. Anne's-Belfield High School. 

The lefty pitcher decided to accept a scholarship to Florida State to play baseball after spurning the advances of the Chicago White Sox, who selected him in the 23rd round of the 2008 draft. He lasted only one semester in Tallahassee, however, failing to make grades and eventually being cited for a DUI. He enrolled at Saddleback Junior College in 2010, played defensive end in his first year there (16 tackles, two for loss, sack) and then moved to the offensive line as a sophomore. He chose Oregon over several other FBS suitors coming out of Saddleback, and started 10 of 12 games for the Ducks on the offensive line. Both Howie and Chris Long have referred to Kyle as the best athlete of the family.

And here's their "bottom line" on Long as an NFL prospect:

The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long and current St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long made his name on the offensive line for the Ducks. The two-sport star in high school enrolled at Florida State to play baseball (he was a 23rd round pick of the White Sox in 2008), but struggles there caused him to regroup at home for a while before attending Saddleback Junior College. Even as a one-and-done contributor for the Ducks on the line, Long's combination of size and athleticism wasn't ignored by NFL scouts, who saw his great potential as a starting guard or tackle.  

My Grade: C+

At first, I had this grade as a "C" in my head, as I was hoping to land Eifert, Ogletree, or Brown at No. 20, and ideally preferred trading down to acquire more picks, as the team was already without a third round selection. In a trade-down scenario, I would've loved the Long pick.

But the pick looked a bit better to me once the Bears selected exciting linebacker prospects in the second and fourth rounds. It made things much more understandable that the Bears passed on Alec Ogletree, Arthur Brown (they actually took LB Jon Bostic over Brown even in the second round), and Manti Te'o in favor of Long.

As I said earlier, pre-draft I considered guard to be the Bears' biggest positional need, and if they think Long's the answer there (which they clearly do), consider me very much on board with the pick. Long's athleticism should be a great fit for Marc Trestman's offense, and Long's versatility is obviously something that shouldn't be overlooked.

Right now, I'd predict Long's starting at right or left guard in 2013 (and Emery has said as much himself), with Matt Slauson playing the other guard spot... and Gabe Carimi on the bench. Carimi's future is now looking pretty bleak in Chicago. And remember, he was a draft selection under Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith, so Emery and Trestman will handle that situation as they wish, without giving Carimi chance after chance to prove himself as may have been the case with the previous regime.

Long is still very raw with only a year of legitimate college football under his belt, but I wouldn't at all be surprised if he becomes a very, very good offensive lineman down the road (and potentially at tackle), as the Bears certainly think he will be. It's hard to get too excited about this pick as a fan just yet given Long's limited amount of high-level football experience, but the upside is certainly there, and at a position the Bears greatly needed to address.

Let's go to the links for more on the Long selection...

Bears choose Kyle Long with first-round pick- The official ChicagoBears.Com write-up on the Long pick. It includes good quotes from Phil Emery, including Emery making comments about how Long graded on the Bears' "athletic index score", a system they've used for the last 12 years to grade players:

"He's the No. 1 guard in the last 12 draft classes, and that's as far back as we go. He rates as rare. That's his rating. In our scale, nine is rare and he rates as rare." 

Some other notable quotes from Emery in the article:

"Obviously he's got to earn his way, just like all players do. But we see a player that's going to contribute right away. Despite his limited time at Oregon, he was a starter at the end of the season. He did very well. His Senior Bowl was excellent. I thought he was the best offensive lineman on the field at the Senior Bowl, so we expect him to contribute right away." 

"That's part of the reason we're extremely excited about having him here is his versatility. He's going to start out at guard. We feel like he can be a starting right tackle. We feel like that he can be a good left tackle in this league. So that's part of what attracted us to Kyle."

"We had some people call us, but nothing that would take us off that pick. Kyle was the player that we targeted. We've targeted him for the last couple of weeks. He had to be gone for us to move back. We were not going to move off that spot if Kyle Long was still there."

"We want to win championships. We felt like this was the best player. Like I said the other day, draft with urgency of a player that we see can come in the quickest, contribute the fastest to helping us win, and that's where the urgency is. At the end of the day, what matters is our team; how we see him fitting for us and do we have the type of dynamic athlete and leader that we need that can help us win championships, and that's this guy." 

So, clearly, Emery and the Bears really, really wanted Long. (ChicagoBears.Com)

Kyle Long elated to be drafted by Bears- Read many Kyle Long quotes on how excited he is to be a Chicago Bear, and how he was surprised to be drafted so early. (ChicagoBears.Com)

Bears may have hit a home run by going Long- David Kaplan's take on the Kyle Long pick. Here's an excerpt from the post: It will take time to evaluate this pick but while many are criticizing the selection I like the pick as it gives the Bears a chance at an elite athlete on their offensive line for many years to come. Patience will be needed as Long learns the NFL game and both the guard and tackle spots. If he is as talented as some experts believe then Emery may have hit a home run in the first-round. (CSN Chicago)

Like it or not, Bears did what was necessary in selecting Long- Adam Oestmann with a great post defending the Bears' decision to take Long. Here's an excerpt:

For years, fans have clamored that “it all starts up front” and that that the offensive line is the “number one priority.” So why last night did I hear some of those same fans calling Phil Emery clueless? Your leader up at Halas Hall has taken pains, it would seem, to rebuild the Bears’ front in a single offseason, signing Jermon Bushrod and Matt Slauson, and now drafting Kyle Long.

Make sure to click over and give the whole post a read.  (Chicago Bears Huddle)

Three reasons Da Bears Blog loves the Kyle Long pick- Jeff Hughes at Da Bears Blog with a great look at why he loves Phil Emery's decision to take Long at No. 20.  (Da Bears Blog)

Phil Emery does it again with Long shot pick- Adam Hoge writes about Emery making a risky, highly questioned pick in the first round for the second year in a row. (670 The Score)

Veteran O-Line Coach: Guys like Kyle Long don't come along very often- Veteran offensive line coach (including six years with the Bears in the 90s) Tony Wise joined 670 The Score to talk about the Long pick. He even believes that Long has the same ability that Eric Fisher and Luke Joeckel, the top two picks in the drafts, do:

“I don’t want to insult anybody, but guards are a dime-a-dozen. Guys with Kyle’s height and his reach and his ability to change directions and run, those guys don’t come along very often. I’ve seen film on some of these guys, and people are going to call me crazy, but I’d stack him up against (Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan). The only thing they did, is they played left tackle their entire career.”

You can hear audio of the interview by clicking over. (670 The Score)

Long, Emery put top pick's character issues in past- Phil Emery:

“I am not concerned. All of us have fallen in life at one point or another and the important thing is do we get up and do we move forward? Do we try to get ourselves better and not only get ourselves better but get those around us better. That is what this young man has done."  (Chicago Tribune)

Kyle Long made most of his chances- (ESPN Chicago)

Howie Long ecstatic his song landed with Bears- (Chicago Tribune)

Kyle Long Video Highlights: 

Stay tuned for our grades, video highlights, and links in regards to the Bears' second, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh round draft picks from the 2013 NFL Draft.

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New Bears defensive end Kyle Moore

Bears sign 3 free agents: Defensive End Kyle Moore, Defensive Tackle Andre Fluellen, & Center Taylor Boggs - It had been quiet on the free agency front for the Bears over the last few weeks, and that's very understandable, given their activity early in the offseason and given their small amount of cap space to work with.

But on Tuesday, the Bears made not one, not two, but three free agent signings. The most notable of the moves was the signing of defensive end Kyle Moore.

Moore, 26, played in 12 games for the Buffalo Bills in 2012, starting seven of those games. He finished the season with 24 tackles and three sacks. The 6'6", 263-pounder played for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2009 and 2010, before joining the Bills in 2011. He was a fourth-round pick in 2009.

The Bears signed another veteran to their defensive line in Andre Fluellen.

Fluellen, a third-round pick out of Florida State in 2008,  spent 2008-2012 with the Lions, and finished 2012 with the Miami Dolphins. The 6'2", 302-pounder has started six games over his career, and has two career sacks.

The Moore and Fluellen signings would appear to lower the chances that free agent Israel Idonije returns to the Bears, but I still wouldn't completely rule it out. If he can be had at a relatively cheap price, it would really be nice to bring him back as he's a capable starter at defensive end, can swing inside on passing downs, and has always been a solid player on special teams.

The Bears also signed center Taylor Boggs on Tuesday. Boggs, 26, was an undrafted free agent signed by the Jets in 2011, and hasn't played in an NFl regular season game yet. I consider center a position of need or the Bears, as Roberto Garza has been pretty bad the last couple years and isn't going to get any better in his mid-30s. But Boggs is still a long shot to make it past the first round of cuts or so. (ChicagoBears.Com)

Center transition on Bears' horizon- Kevin Seiftert of ESPN agrees with me in regards to the Bears and the center position. Seifert adds that the Bears are bringing in California guard/center Brian Schwenke for a visit today. (ESPN Chicago)

Bears interested in JaMarcus Russell? - Matt Eurich examines the rumor that the Bears are interested in signing former No. 1 overall draft pick JaMarcus Russell to complete for a backup quarterback spot.

Many people will react quite angrily to that, but I think it's an intriguing idea. If Trestman (a quarterback guru) thinks there's something he can work with to get JaMarcus playing anything like the quarterback people thought he'd be out of college, I'm very much on board with taking a flier. (Chicago Bears Huddle)

Brandon Marshall, Bears 'embracing the change' - Sean Jensen with a very nice article on how the Bears are reacting to the coaching and player changes this offseason. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Devin Hester: Can the swagger return? - Boomer at Bear Goggles On with a great look at Devin Hester's return to the, well, returner's role solely. (Bear Goggles On)

Will the Bears extend anyone this offseason? - T.J. Shouse of Windy City Gridiron examines some potential extension candidates for the Bears... but wonders if -any- of them will get a deal done this offseason. (Windy City Gridiron)

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