By Adam Hoge-
HALAS HALL (CBS) — The Chicago Bears selected defensive tackle Will Sutton in the third round of the NFL draft.
The Arizona State product was one of the most polarizing prospects in this year’s draft. After a dominating junior season playing at 285 pounds, Sutton was asked to bulk up and play a different technique as a senior. By the time the year started, he said he was at 320 pounds and his production suffered.
Surprisingly, Sutton was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year in both seasons, but the numbers — and game film — weren’t comparable. In 2012, Sutton racked up 23.5 TFLs and 13 sacks. In 2013, those numbers dropped to 13.5 TFLs and four sacks.
The Bears were among many teams concerned with what happened to Sutton as a senior and they needed to see if he was committed to losing the weight. At the Senior Bowl in January, Sutton was still 315 pounds, but by the time the Combine rolled around in February, he was down to 303.
Friday night, speaking with reporters on a conference call, Sutton said he was at 290 pounds. Bears general manager Phil Emery then said they would like to see him between 285 and 295.
Clearly, Sutton did enough in the last few months to show Emery that he was drafting the junior year Will Sutton and not the senior year Will Sutton.
Emery said the defensive tackle has the ability to line up both as a nose and a three-technique, but Sutton projects best as a pass-rushing three and that’s where he feels most comfortable playing.
“I think that’s where I can excel at,” Sutton said. “I’m not really the big physical type of defensive lineman like poeple want to play that nose position. I am a physical guy, but my strength is at getting that one-on-one pass rush and penetrating.”
Sutton was the second defensive tackle taken by the Bears Friday as the Bears also drafted former LSU defensive tackle Ego Ferguson with the 51st overall pick in the second round.
Ferguson figures to be more of the run-stuffer, with Sutton rushing the passer.
Adam Hoge covers the Bears for CBSChicago.com and is a frequent contributor to 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.