When the Bears signed former San Francisco 49er Ray McDonald, concurrent with adding Jarvis Jenkins from the Washington Redskins last March, the Bears appeared to have set in place two-thirds of the down-linemen component of their developing 3-4 scheme. McDonald was a starter, period.
Now the Bears face the unenviable task of filling in a gaping hole that they’d hoped was set. They drafted only one defensive lineman, and Eddie Goldman is the presumptive starting nose tackle. They did sign undrafted defensive tackle Terry Williams, but Williams (329 pounds) also is a nose tackle.
Which all conspires to leave the Bears short a starting member of the “3” in 3-4. But they have options, two in fact. Coincidentally, both were tentatively ID’d as nose tackles by GM Ryan Pace back at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year.
What’s significant now is that one, or both, may be starting, just not at nose tackle.
One is Jeremiah Ratliff, who already had been talked about as an end rather than nose tackle, given his age (34 in August) and size (305 pounds).
The other is Ego Ferguson. Perhaps also coincidentally, Pace said immediately after the draft that the Bears already had looked extensively at Ferguson as an end in the 3-4.
[NBC SHOP: Get the latest Bears gear here]
“We’ve talked about that a lot,” Pace said. “We project [Ferguson] as really nose and end. He can be both for us. So we don’t have him set at one position right now. He can be a nose or an end. He has position flexibility there, too.”
The depth chart also includes lightly used Brandon Dunn, undrafted last year out of Louisville, who made the Bears’ practice squad and moved onto the 53-man roster in November.
And Will Sutton, under some roster pressure simply because he is undersized and less suited to two-gapping systems, projects to get perhaps a longer look for a roster suddenly without one key figure at the top.