Chicago Bears eager to put WR Kevin White to work
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) Florida State defensive lineman Eddie Goldman became a little emotional after hearing his name called by Dick Butkus in the second round of the NFL draft.
It was quite an introduction to Chicago.
Butkus, the Hall of Fame former Bears linebacker, said he liked the pick after announcing it to the cheering crowd Friday night at the draft in downtown Chicago, miles from Halas Hall in suburban Lake Forest. Goldman, a 6-foot-4, 336-pound nose tackle, said he feels like he'll have something to prove. And he liked Butkus' comment.
''He was one of my dad's favorite players,'' Goldman said. ''My dad likes the gritty type of guys. To hear him say that, that, ''I like that,'' it's so subtle, it's so small but coming from him it kind of made my heart drop a little bit because he's NFL royalty right there.''
The Bears also picked Oregon center Hroniss Grasu, a former teammate of Bears guard Kyle Long, in the third round. Grasu and Goldman squared off against each other in January's Rose Bowl.
''A good battle,'' Bears general manager Ryan Pace said. ''Those are two great players going at it and they'll be doing it again in practice.''
Goldman has played end and tackle, but is viewed as a nose tackle for the middle of the team's new 3-4 defensive scheme. In his junior season last year, he had a career-high 35 tackles, including eight for loss, and four sacks.
''Honestly, I think I can play anywhere on the line in the NFL,'' Goldman said.
The Bears have never played a 3-4 and had only 11-year veteran Jeremiah Ratliff listed on their roster at the nose tackle position during their minicamp this week. Ratliff, who is a player Goldman said he idolized, spent much of his career playing tackle in a 4-3.
The Bears defense finished 30th in the NFL the last two seasons and two years ago were the worst run defense in the league.
The Bears view Goldman as a run-stuffer who also has some ability as a pass rusher. However, some scouts disliked his ability to stay on the field for passing downs.
''All aspects of my game can use improvement, but pass rush is something scouts knocked me for,'' Goldman said. ''But I think I can pass rush with the best of them. I mean, we'll just have to wait and see because I'm going to prove everyone wrong.''
Entering the day, Chicago also held the No. 71 pick in the third round, and picks in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds Saturday.
Chicago's pick in the first round, West Virginia wide receiver Kevin White, the seventh pick overall, is being looked to as a replacement for the departed Brandon Marshall and a player who might help turn around the fortunes of quarterback Jay Cutler following a 24-turnover season that ended with a 5-11 record.
''He's a cool guy, laid-back, he's the man in this city,'' White said about Cutler after their first meeting Friday at Halas Hall.
Cutler's status in the eyes of some Bears fans - and possibly Pace and the coaching staff -- might be less lofty than the rookie receiver knows considering the trade rumors circulating about the veteran quarterback. Cutler and his family went out to dinner with White. If the connection is built later on the football field, plenty of critics will be wrong.
''I've always got to prove everyone wrong,'' White said. ''There's always going to be critics and doubters.'
Not much has bothered White in the past as he made a meteoric rise from playing before a handful of fans at Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to West Virginia and then to the draft's first round Thursday. Just getting to West Virginia was an ordeal, as he sent out an estimated 250 emails to college coaches in hopes of a response.
The Bears are hoping his time has come after a 4.35-second 40-yard dash at the combine and a senior year with 10 touchdown catches, including a big nine-catch, one-TD, 143-yard game against Alabama.
There may be some adjustments ahead yet for White, since he'd been on the right side at West Virginia and had played in a spread offense that left him a lot of leeway in running pass routes. In offensive coordinator Adam Gase's offense, White will line up on the left side with the capability of playing the slot.
Grasu, the third-round pick, is the youngest child of Romanian immigrants who didn't want him to play American football because they considered it too dangerous.
The Bears currently have center Will Montgomery on the roster after signing him in free agency and it's possible Grasu could play some at guard. However, Pace sees him as a true center.
A 6-foot-3, 297-pounder known for quickness, Grasu anchored the up-tempo Oregon offense and feels his background in it is asset.
''It should really help out with Chicago because I always had to make a lot of decisions in a very short amount of time,'' he said.
Another source of comfort for Grassu will be playing with Long again.
''Kyle is my best friend, he's a brother to me,'' Grasu said. ''To be able to continue that is unbelievable.''
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