By Chris Emma–
(CBS) Bears general manager Ryan Pace believed strongly in his scouting convictions, and he followed through by boldly moving up two spots to get a player he coveted. Chicago selected Georgia linebacker Leonard Floyd with the No. 9 pick of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.
“We were excited about it,” Pace said of moving for Floyd. “We wanted to be aggressive and ensure we got the guy we want.”
The Bears sent their No. 11 pick and a fourth-rounder, No. 106 overall, to the Bucs to move up to No. 9 and nab the 23-year-old Floyd. Chicago entered the draft with two fourth-round picks, also holding one acquired from New England in the the deal that sent Martellus Bennett to the Patriots.
It was the first time in 20 years that the Bears had traded up in the first round and the first time they selected a linebacker in the first round since drafting Brian Urlacher in 2000.
“I’m so freaking excited to be a Chicago Bear,” Floyd said.
The Bears envision the 6-foot-6, 244-pound Floyd being a speedy, playmaking edge rusher. Most scouting reports laud him for his athleticism but also question his strength and weight.
Selecting at No. 9 overall, the Bears passed on projected targets in Myles Jack, Vernon Hargreaves and Shaq Lawson, along with tackle Laremy Tunsil, whose presence on the draft board was a great surprise.
Floyd had 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks in 2015, when he earned all-SEC honors. He was also a Butkus Award finalist.