By Tolly Taylor
When Dick Butkus heard his former team had drafted the Dick Butkus Award winner, the Bears great said he liked the pick.
Just not trading up to get college football’s best linebacker, Georgia’s Leonard Floyd.
“I’m just wondering why they got the inkling he wouldn’t be there just two picks later,” the Hall of Fame linebacker said at the team’s Soldier Field draft party.
The Bears traded the 11th overall pick and a fourth-rounder to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the ninth overall selection Thursday. It was the first time Chicago had traded up in the first round since 1996.
“I was surprised that they traded up,” said Floyd at a press conference streamed online at ChicagoBears.com. “I was very excited they came up to get me. That means they see something in me.”
The Bears continue to rebuild their linebacking corps. They signed free agent Danny Trevathan away from the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos earlier in the offseason.
Floyd actually models his game after a different Bronco.
“Always wanted to be a DeMarcus Ware type of player,” he said. “I want to dominate the game for a long time.”
The Bears also hit linebacker during free agency last season, signing Pernell McPhee. On Thursday night, McPhee joined Butkus and other current and former Bears at the draft party and said he thought the team would draft Louisville defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins.
Not that he’s complaining. Hardly.
“It’s a great move for the city overall; we really needed an edge rusher,” McPhee said. “I’ll come in with the power, and he’ll just run right around and hit the quarterback.”
In three years at Georgia, Floyd totaled 182 tackles, including 26.5 for a loss and 17 sacks.
But Butkus wonders whether there was a better choice at No. 9.
“Maybe a quarterback,” Butkus said. “Put (Memphis’ Paxton Lynch) in the back, for a couple years, because if something happens to (Jay) Cutler, we’re really screwed, I think. So we get a guy like that, he gets a year or two under his belt, and there we go.”
When asked whether he agreed with Butkus about the Memphis quarterback, Bears offensive guard Kyle Long played dumb.
“Paxton Lynch? Who’s he?” Long joked, then turned serious. “We don’t need a quarterback. (Pick the) best player available, by need.”
Photo at top: Dick Butkus speaks with media at the Bears’ draft party Thursday night. (Caley Chelios/Medill)