When the Bears selected LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson with the 51st overall pick in the second-round of the NFL Draft, Will Sutton thought his hopes of joining the team he rooted for growing up were dashed. But the two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year was pleasantly surprised about 90 minutes later when his phone rang, and Phil Emery was on the other end.
Emery had seen enough of Sutton's late season action that reminded him more closely of the defensive tackle he'd seen in 2012, when he played 35 pounds lighter. When he came in for a private visit, he was closer to the 285 lbs. he played at during his junior year, when he averaged more than a sack per-game at the 3-technique spot that remains crucial to Mel Tucker's defense.
“I felt it hurt me a little, but I was just getting information by (people) saying I was too small for the NFL," Sutton said. "I was just listening and they said it was bad so I’ve been working to get the weight off and I’m back down to what I was my junior season and just ready to prove to everybody…to show what type of football player I really am.”
The third-round was where the Bears general manager estimated Sutton would be slotted, and when he was still there as Emery's turn came up again at No. 82, Sutton joined Ferguson in what the Bears hope will be a defensive tackle tandem of the future.
“Yeah, it was a little nerve racking," Sutton said. "I was hoping I’d get taken in the second round, but everything happens for a reason. I’m just blessed to get my name called and the waiting period is over and I can’t wait to get off to Chicago.”
As we mentioned in our piece earlier in the evening about the Ferguson pick, Emery may downplay the significance of new assistant coaches Paul Pasqualoni and Clint Hurtt, but their ability to coach-up Ferguson and Sutton will go a long way in determining the success of this draft.
[RELATED: Bears' Ferguson: 'Watch out for me']
Sutton's Bears fandom comes from cousins who lived in Chicago. While growing up in Corona, California (just west of Anaheim), he was sent Bears souvenirs and clothing from those relatives. Since the Los Angeles area has been without a team, Sutton adopted the Bears. He's kept an eye on them.
And he told reporters moments after being drafted, watching the defensive fortunes a year ago made him want to become a Bear even more, to help fix what's broken.
“Everybody there is great and I love what they got going on for them now and I’m just glad to be a part of what they’re trying to do and just being a part of Bears history; there’s just so much history in that program.”