With Matt Forte’s contract expiring in one year, the Bears drafted Michigan State running back Jeremy Langford in the fourth round Saturday.
The 6-1, 208-pounder rushed for 2,967 yards on 577 carries in his four-year career, totaling 18 games with 100 or more rushing yards. As a senior, he tied a Spartans record with 22 rushing touchdowns, and finished second with 10 games in which he ran for 100 or more yards.
“I think I can hit the hole and run, and at the same time get the third-and-shorts,” he said. “I feel like I could be used in any situation, on third down or be able to catch the ball out of the backfield. I feel like I’m very versatile.”
The Wayne, Mich., native played cornerback and wide receiver at MSU before switching to running back.
“At the tim, when I was younger it was a little frustrating, but the older I got I felt it helped me out in my future games,” he said. “In my last two years playing I think it helped me out in knowing the whole playbook by playing receiver and knowing defenses at corner. So I feel like it all helped me out in the long run. And I was very excited to get back to running back and put it all together.”
Langford — who was surprised by the the Bears’ selection, but not by his early fourth-round pick — said he was proud of his ability to pass-block, a trait he learned by watching film of Forte.
“I see him stand up linebackers all the time in blitz pick-up,” he said. “I feel like he does it all. He catches the ball out of the backfield very well. He blocks linebackers very well. I learned a lot watching his film to be able to block linebackers. I feel like he does it. He has the whole package.”
Some see Langford as more of a complimentary back, but the timing is interesting — Forte has a year left on his contract. The pick might be bad news, too, for the Bears’ fourth-round running back of just one year ago, Ka’Deem Carey, who did little in his rookie season.
Langford ran 30 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns this season to beat Penn State and Bears fifth-round pick Adrian Amos.
“He’s a good running back,” Amos said. “He’s a smooth runner. He knows how to run the ball. He was pretty tough when we played against him. He’s a good football player.”
Although new coach John Fox said he wants waves of runners, the Bears have at least five players competing for three — or maybe four — spots: Forte, Carey, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jeremy Langford and Senorise Perry. Perry, though, is considered a special teams player.
Forte returned to Halas Hall on Friday, and GM Ryan Pace was complimentary of the veteran.