For Chicago Bears GM Phil Emery, it all came down to intelligence, speed, positional flexibility and leadership when selecting his players in the first and second rounds of the 2013 NFL draft. The two players he picked, Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long and Florida linebacker Jon Bostic, fit those criteria and in Emery's mind, are a perfect additions to Chicago's roster.
Long – who had academic and character issues early on in his college career at Florida State, played for Saddleback Junior College and started just five games as a senior for the Ducks – was somewhat of a surprise as a first rounder, as Long was initially slated by most draft experts as a second or third round choice.
But Emery firmly believes Long has moved past his troubles and is ready to take a leadership role with the Bears. He said Long as the top pick was a "clear statement that the Bears wanted this particular player."
Emery mentioned some early discussions about trading down but felt that nothing of value was out there that would justify moving from their position.
"We had Kyle targeted for the last couple of weeks. His visit here was excellent. We liked his straightforwardness, honesty, focus," Emery said. "We see him as a player who will contribute right away. Despite his limited time at Oregon, he was a starter by the end of that season. I thought he was the best offensive lineman at the Senior Bowl so we expect him to contribute right away."
As it happens, Long is the first guard to be selected in the first round by the Bears since 1960.
Second-round pick ILB Jon Bostic might seem a more obvious choice for a team looking to shore up the defense and eventually compensate for the loss of Brian Urlacher. Although some draft sites questioned Bostic's overall size and speed, Emery stressed Bostic's athleticism and ability to assume a leadership role. He added that Bostic would contribute initially on special teams but could move quickly into a starting role.
As a middle linebacker for Florida, Bostic made the defensive calls on the field. He received All-American third team recognition in 2012 after finishing with 68 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and three sacks. He also had six solo tackles in the Sugar Bowl against Louisville. Bostic's father, Jon, was a defensive back for the Detroit Lions (1985-1987).
Emery expressed admiration for the SEC, Bostic's collegiate conference.
"They have great competition in practice there and play league games at the highest level," Emery said. "It's a good place for pro teams to find future starters."
Long is the son of Oakland Raiders Hall of Famer Howie Long and the brother of St. Louis Rams defensive Chris Long. When asked if the Bears specifically looked for prospects with family football backgrounds, Emery said he was unaware Bostic's father had been in the NFL until long into the team's vetting process.
"But there is a work ethic in that type of family," said Emery. "These two young players should have a firm idea about the realities of the NFL and what it takes to succeed in this league. I'll let the coaches decide where we go from here. I know they are looking forward to working with these talented young players."
Beth Gorr has been covering the Bears for the last 12 years and is the author of Bear Memories: The Chicago-Green Bay Rivalry. She is currently working on a second book about early Bears history.