Matt Bowen: Bears, Pace addressed defensive needs in 2016 NFL Draft

Bears day 2
Chicago Bears fans inside Auditorium Theatre eagerly await the team's next pick at the NFL Draft. (Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)

By Tolly Taylor and Shane Monaghan

Ryan Pace and the Chicago Bears front office were not apprehensive during the 2016 NFL Draft. The team made multiple trades en route to drafting nine players, seven of which were defenders.

ESPN NFL staff writer Matt Bowen spoke with Medill Reports about why he felt the Bears addressed numerous needs and became faster and more physical on defense.

Round 1, Pick No. 9: Leonard Floyd, OLB, Georgia

Bowen said he sees Floyd playing an Aldon Smith type role for defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. “When you draft in the top ten, you want to draft for upside,” said Bowen. “You draft a guy like that cause you want to put the quarterback down.”

Round 2, Pick No. 56: Cody Whitehair, G, Kansas State

“He is a versatile offensive guard,” Bowen said of Whitehair. “He can play tackle like he did at Kansas State. I think he is a left guard for the Bears. He immediately increases the competition on the offensive line.”

Round 3, Pick No. 72: Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida

Round 4, Pick No. 113: Nick Kwiatkoski, ILB, West Virginia

“The front seven now after free agency and the draft is completely different,” said Bowen, referring to the Bears also adding free-agent linebackers Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. “It is faster, is it more athletic, it is physical. That is what they wanted to do going into this draft and that is what they got.”

Round 4, Pick 124: Deon Bush, S, Miami

Round 4, Pick 127: Deiondre’ Hall, CB, Northern Iowa

“There is going to be a lot of competition at that safety spot,” said Bowen. “You have to have competition. You can never have too many defensive backs.”

Round 5, Pick No. 150: Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana

Round 6, Pick No. 185: DeAndre Houston-Carson, S, William and Mary

Round 7, Pick No. 230: Daniel Braverman, WR, Western Michigan

Bears training camp opens in mid-July, but according to Bowen, Bears fans have a lot to be excited about following the three-day Draft.

“They addressed the safety position, you got faster as a defense, you got tougher as a defense, and you got an offensive lineman who can play multiple spots,” he said.

Photo at top: Chicago Bears fans inside Auditorium Theatre eagerly await the team’s next pick at the NFL Draft.(Hannah Gebresilassie/MEDILL)