Sun-Times experts evaluate every Bears draftee

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Indiana running back Jordan Howard is one of the nine newest Bears. (AP)

The Chicago Sun-Times’ Bears experts break down the Bears’ ninedraft picks:

Round 1, No. 9

Leonard Floyd

Outside linebacker

Georgia

6-6, 244 pounds

Background: Recorded 13 sacks in three years at Georgia and a team-high 4 ½ last year, though he was limited by stints at inside linebacker and by being asked to drop into coverage at times. Floyd attended Hargrave Military Academy — one-time home of the Bears’ Willie Young and Ego Ferguson —for one year after graduating Dodge County (Ga.) High School.

The skinny: Exactly that. The Bears want Floyd, who bulked up just to get to 244 pounds at the NFL Scouting Combine, to play somewhere in the 240s. The key will be for Floyd, a tremendous athlete, to retain his explosiveness even with the added weight.

He says: “It got to the ninth pick and it was Tampa’s turn and I got a phone call and thought it was Tampa. But they told me it was the Bears and I quickly jumped up because the Bears were one of my favorite teams. They always showed me the most love throughout this process.”

Ryan Pace says: “He is hungry, high-energy and plays with a lot of enthusiasm and passion, so that all comes together for a lot of growth.”

— Patrick Finley

Round 2, No. 56

Cody Whitehair

Guard

Kansas State

6-3, 301 pounds

Background:Four-year starter for Kansas State who played left guard as a redshirt-freshman and sophomore and left tackle as a junior and senior — second-team all-Big 12 at guard as a sophomore and tackle as a junior; first-team all-Big 12 at tackle as a senior. First-team academic all-Big 12 in 2015. Team captain.

The skinny:Though he started at tackle the last two seasons, Whitehair is considered an NFL prospect primarily as a guard. NFL Network’s Mike Mayock rated him the No. 1 guard in the draft after the scouting combine. The Bears say he can play either position, even center if need be.

He says:“I’m probably a better fit for guard. I’m not the tallest guy, but I feel I can make up for it with quickness. But I’m up to playing anywhere and wherever the coach needs me to play. I feel like I’m … a team player and wherever the team needs me to play, I can make the transition and play up to the level I need to play at.”

Ryan Pace says:“He’s an aggressive player. He’s really good in space. He plays with great inside hand placement and he’s got strong hands. I love offensive linemen with strong inside hands. When they latch on you can’t get rid of him. He’s a very difficult player to shed once he gets his hands on your chest.”

— Mark Potash

Round 3, No. 72

Jonathan Bullard

Defensive end

Florida

6-3, 285 pounds

Background: Bullard spent most of his senior season lining up over the guard’s outside shoulder, but the Bears envision him as a five-technique end.He was named a unanimous all-SEC first-team player in 2015; he recorded 17 ½ tackles for loss and 6 ½ sacks, and was given the highest Pro Football Focus run-stopping score among all interior linemen. He had 2 ½ sacks and 8 ½ tackles for loss as a junior.

The skinny: Bears college scouting director Joe Douglas went to bat for Bullard, and the Bears believe that his 33 5/8-inch arms make up for his lack of ideal height at end. He could rush inside on passing downs. “In the old days they’d call him a tweener,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said Friday. “Today they’re going to call him a millionaire.”

He says: “My greatest strength would probably be my first step and play recognition. I think I did a good job of learning the game and I can kind of see things before they happen.”

Ryan Pace says:“I think it’s just getting guys that are athletic, that are versatile, that play with the tenacity we’re looking for and that’s how I see it. We want guys that can get to the quarterback, too, and I think when you look at [Leonard] Floyd or [Jonathan] Bullard now, these are all guys that can all rush the passer. And that’s going to help us next year.”

— Patrick Finley

Round4, No. 127

Nick Kwiatkoski

Inside linebacker

West Virginia

6-2, 238 pounds

Background:A 195-pound safety/tailback/receiver at Bethel Park (Pa.) high school — 35 miles south of Alquippa —Kwiatkoski (pronounced Quit-COW-skee) moved to linebacker after his freshman year at West Virginia. Became a three-year starter, with 10 tackles-for-loss, three sacks, seven pass break-ups and three interceptions as a senior. Team captain. Was a three-phase special-teams player as a freshman and sophomore.

The skinny:Kwiatkoski is an old-school, throwback type of player who thrives on aggressiveness, instinct and film study. He’s an outstanding tackler with coverage ability and a knack for shedding blocks. Coaches love him — he’s a dedicated team player with good football intelligence and a love of the game.

He says:“I play hard-nosed linebacker. I like to hit and be physical, but I’m versatile, so I can cover. I love special teams. I love kickoffs. I love running down the field and am excited about being part of Bears special teams.”

Ryan Pace says:“We had a lot of conviction in him. Very instinctive. Tough, hard-nosed player. Plays downhill. Very productive. I guy we valued obviously to go up and get him and a guy that we’re real excited to have.

“The No. 1 trait you’re looking for in a linebacker is instincts. You can’t coach that. He just reacts so quick and he attacks downhill. I think instincts transfer to whatever level you’re playing at.”

— Mark Potash

Round 4, No. 124

Deon Bush

Safety

Miami

6-0, 199 pounds

Background:A Miami native, Bush was a third-team All-ACC selection by coaches in 2015. Hemade four interceptions and 13 pass breakups in his college career, which included 32 starts. He also played on all special teams. Bush was namedto American Football Coaches Association’s All-Good Works team, which recognizes a player’s volunteer service.

The skinny:He’s considered a willing and physical tackler with good size and speed for the position, but there are concerns about his coverage skills. In Pro Football Weekly, former Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel said Bush “lacks a great feel in coverage” and has “just average ball skills.” He should be able to becomea Day 1 contributor on special teams.

He says:“I grew up watching Antrel Rolle, and while he was down here in Miami I was working out with him, so he’s kind of like a mentor to me. He’s been in the league for a long time, and I want to be in the league for a long time, so there’s a lot to learn from him. It’s just great having another player from the ‘U.’ [We are] like a family, like a brotherhood. It’ll be great playing with him.”

Ryan Pace says:“Good athlete, also a very physical player. [We like the] fact that he throws his body around and plays with toughness, plays with instincts and plays fast on the field. So another guy we were fired up to get.”

— Adam L. Jahns

Round 4, No. 127

Deiondre’ Hall

Cornerback

Northern Iowa

6-2, 190 pounds

Background:A three-year starter at cornerback, rover and free safety,Hallwas a big-play player at Northern Iowa with four career touchdowns on interception returns.Hallwas a two-time all-Missouri Valley cornerback and the league’s defensive player of the year in 2015, when he had six interceptions and three forced fumbles playing five games at cornerback and the last 10 at free safety —helping UNI to the FCS championship game. Had 13 career interceptions with 243 yards in returns.

The skinny:Has the height and length (34 34/-inch reach NFL teams are looking for, with a 37pinch vertical and a frame to grown on. Reminiscent of former Bears cornerback Charles Tillman as a prospect. But he’s a little more raw and a work-in-progress as an NFL cornerback and likely will need good coaching to get the most of his ability.

He says:“I’ve always loved Charles Tillman — just being a ballhawk and getting the ball. I’ve always tried to model my game after him. Not mimicking his game, but taking bits and pieces and adding it to mine.

“I think I proved [at the Senior Bowl] I can play cornerback and a little nickel as well.”

Ryan Pace says:“Extremely versatile player. Can play corner. Can play safety. He has rare length for the position and I think that’s important for that position. Also a very tough and competitive. I like his versatility — corner, nickel, safety. Really good ball skills.”

— Mark Potash

Round5, No. 150

Jordan Howard

Running back

Indiana

6-0, 230 pounds

Background:He was a record-setting back at Alabama-Birmingham before the program closed in 2015. He still excelled against better competition in the Big Ten. Howard earned first-team All-Big Ten honors after running for 1,213 yards and nine touchdowns last season. He was slowed by ankle and knee injuries at Indiana.

The skinny:Some draft analysts and scouting services considered Howard a possible Day 2 pick, but his durability was a concern. He has a punishing running style and good vision. He has experience in pass protection, but he wasn’t featured much as a receiver, making only 11 catches last year. The Bears wanted a power back to complement speedy starter Jeremy Langford.

He says:“I feel like my size will benefit me well because a lot of time guys they won’t want to tackle me a lot of times, especially after long games, when we’ve just been pounding. They then start diving, and then I can avoid them. It works very well for me.”

Ryan Pace says:“Jordan Howard is that physical pounder. We just love that style of play from him. It was good. You kind of want to mix those guys [Langford and Howard] together. He brought a little bit of a different dimension. I think he’ll fit very well into that room. He’s a highly productive player. With these running backs, they better have good vision, and he has really good vision, and he runs really hard. That’s a pretty good combination.”

— Adam L. Jahns

Round 6, No. 185

DeAndre Houston-Carson

Safety

William & Mary

6-1, 201 pounds

Background: After three seasons and 32 starts at cornerback, he moved to safety before his senior season. He grabbed four interceptions and was named a consensus Football Championship Subdivision All-American. Houston-Carson’s special teams prowess is the reason he was selected— he blocked nine kicks in college and even, as a junior, broke his right wrist while stopping a punt. He played on every special teams unit but kickoff return and field goal last year.

The skinny: The Bears like Houston-Carson’s versatility, but see him as a safety. In what has fast become a trend, they valued him taking responsibility as a team captain. Houston-Carson is realistic about the jump from small-college ball to the NFL, saying he expects a “leap in competition, a leap in expectations.”CBS’ Rob Rang wrote that he needs to improve him open-field tackling to stick there in the NFL.

He says:“That’s the most important part of football in my opinion, is being able to make tackles and bring people down. It’s something I take a lot of pride in, just again, I was in a lot of good positions to make a lot of plays in that way.”

Ryan Pace says: “Very physical player, hits with explosiveness, very good special teams player as well. This is a guy (special teams coach) Jeff Rodgers is fired up about.”

— Patrick Finley

Round 7, No. 230

Daniel Braverman

Wide receiver

Western Michigan

5-10, 177 pounds

Background: Daniel Braverman finished second in the nation with 109 receptions last year, but he didn’t spent the entire season beating up on MAC teams. The Bears’ seventh-round draft pick had 13 catches for 109 yards in the season opener against Michigan State; later in the month, he caught 10 passes for 123 yards and one 55-yard score against Ohio State. Two years removed from ACL surgery, he finished the 2015 season with 109 catches, 1,371 receiving yards and 13 scores, perhaps the best stat line of any receiver in the country. In 2014, he had 86 catches for 997 yards and six touchdowns.

The skinny: ESPN analyst Mel Kiper compared him to slot receivers Danny Amendola and Julian Edelman earlier this month, saying he was “pretty sure-handed.” Earlier this offseason, Braverman doubted he’d be drafted after the NFL Scouting Combine didn’t invite him. He’ll have to break in as a specialist; he returned 25 punts the last two years.

He says: “I’ve been punt returning ever since little league and kick returning ever since little league. I’ve been scoring touchdowns on special teams my whole life … whatever I’m asked to do I’ll do it to the best of my ability.”

Ryan Pace says: “This is a guy our scouts liked a lot—areal nifty, sudden slot receiver. Real instinctive in that area, knows how to get open, finds holes in zones, a real productive player.”

— Patrick Finley

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