Bears Day 2 Draft Prospects: Inside Linebacker
Nick Kwiatkoski, West Virginia (6’2 | 243 | 4.65) – Natural fit as a 3-4 ILB. Among all FBS 3-4 ILBs, Kwiatkoski was the 4th ranked run stopper and 6th ranked in pass coverage according to Pro Football Focus. He’s a legitimate beast inside, tackling anyone who comes in his vicinity. He attacks interior blockers with aggression and confidence, knowing that he’s going to win most 1-1 battles. Kwiatkoski’s got a unique skill to beat blockers, allowing him to get in the backfield and make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He had 22 tackles for loss over the last two seasons.
Kwiatkoski has natural instincts to avoid blocks, allowing him to penetrate consistently and make plays near or behind the line of scrimmage. That’s a skill the Bears could really use after watching last year’s ILBs sit back and wait for the ball to come to them. Kwiatkoski is never going to be a lock down coverage guy, but would be an ideal backup to the 30-year-old Jerrell Freeman and is significantly better than any of the ILBs the Bears deployed last season.
A combination of Trevathan and the attacking run-stopper Kwiatkoski would give the Bears the best of both worlds. It may take a season or two to get Kwiatkoski in the lineup, but long-term he’s a potentially explosive combo with Danny Trevathan.
Scooby Wright, Arizona (6’0 | 239 | 4.79) – Should have declared for the draft after a ridiculous 2014 season with 163 total tackles, 29 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles. Wright also single-handedly shut down Heisman-winning QB Marcus Mariota to deliver Oregon their first loss in 2014. They don’t keep individual defensive game stats, but Wright was in the backfield all day and had a strip sack on Mariota to seal the game. It was just one of many games for Wright that he made impact, game-changing plays.
Despite not having ideal size or speed, Wright has been one of the most consistent play-makers in college football and made more impact plays than any other linebacker I saw during the 2014 season. On paper Wright’s measurables aren’t great, but he just gets the job done. The stat line from his last healthy season should give you an idea how good Wright can be.
Wright is a step or two slow compared to most linebackers at the NFL level, but all he’s done is make plays when on the field. He shows the ability to beat blockers both bigger and faster than him with a combination of quickness, power, and all-out desire. Wright’s physical traits are on the low-end of the NFL scale, but he’s always found a away to get the job done. His lack of prototype NFL traits will drop him to the mid-to-late rounds, but his production and love of football could endear Wright to HC John Fox and earn him a spot in Chicago by the end of the drafts second day.
Next: Martinez & Schobert