Bears GM Ryan Pace picks ‘twitchy’ Jonathan Bullard in Round 3
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Jonathan Bullard leapt off the screen — and the line of scrimmage.
Florida’s run-stuffing defensive lineman has something that Ryan Pace swears can’t be taught. His flaws — high pad level when rushing the quarterback, for example — can be coached out of him.
“When you watch the tape on him, there’s one thing that you can’t coach with these guys, is, get-off,” Pace said Friday after drafting Bullard in the third round. “His get-off is excellent. I think there’s a lot of advantages just from that alone.”
The Bears envision the 6-3, 285-pounder as an end in their 3-4 scheme. He’s short for their ideal body type, but his long arms — 33 5/8 inches — make up for it. In sub packages, Pace said, Bullard can rush from the three-technique, the way he did last season in Gainesville.
“He’s 6-3-something, but he plays with good length and good separation, and he’s just a twitchy athlete for a guy that size,” Pace said. “And that quick twitch is something you either have or you don’t have, and he’s got it.”
Pace’s rebuild of the Bears front seven might have picked up another starter; all that stands in the way of Bullard at one end position is Ego Ferguson, Will Sutton and Mitch Unrein.
In perhaps the best draft ever for defensive linemen, the Bears found good value with pick No. 72. Pro Football Focus gave Bullard its top interior lineman run-stopping grade in the nation last year, and speculated he could use his athleticism to improve his pass rush.
Bullard considered turning pro one year ago but the NFL’s pre-draft evaluation process suggested he’d be better served returning to school.
He made huge gains, leading Florida with 17 ½ tackles for loss, the most since former Bear Alex Brown had 18 in 1999.
“I kind of used that as a chip on my shoulder — to go out and prove that I was a highly talented guy and I felt like I deserved to go higher, which also this year I felt the same, in this draft,” Bullard said. “I waited longer than I expected, but I feel like I landed in a good place and I’m excited for it.
“Now I go out, also, and start my career off with a chip on my shoulder — and just go out and prove people wrong again. Sometimes that’s not always a bad thing, to have that chip.”