Chicago Bears: Mid Round Pass Rush Options


The Chicago Bears enter the 2018 NFL draft thin at the pass rusher position. After letting Willie Young go and with Lamarr Houston still unsigned, there is little depth on the team. Aaron Lynch was signed, and he currently is listed as a starter. That is not exactly where the Bears want to be.

The Bears seem to be too low for Bradley Chubb early, and Harold Landry is arguably a reach at pick eight. While there should be options in the second round, the way that the board breaks could impact that and push pass rusher into the middle rounds for the Bears.  Who are three pass rushers the Bears should be hoping to land in the fourth or fifth round?

Kemoko Turay, Rutgers

Despite coming into the NFL at 23 years old, Turay could still be looked at as more of a raw pass rusher. Growing up, Turay did not play football. Turay and his family moved from Guinea to America when he was three years old. He grew up in a high school system without a football program. However, in his junior year, he transferred and played for two seasons before seeing an offer from Rutgers.

Turay redshirted one season and came out explosive as a redshirt freshman with 7.5 sacks. However, multiple shoulder surgeries over the next two seasons had him playing just 11 combined games with 5 sacks. As a senior, he was healthy but played a role off of the ball more. He finished with just three sacks.

Turay spent a lot of time aligned in the spot shown below. He is a step or two off of the line of scrimmage. Turay is responsible for reading options, hand offs and slants in the passing game before rushing up the field. It utilized his speed to the outside, but limited a lot of what he could do production wise.

This is why Turay could be around in the fourth round, like he was in our most recent seven-round mock draft. If he is, the Bears should definitely be considering him.

Turay was dealing with an injury at the combine and did not do much testing. However, what he did show was that he is fast, and long enough reach.

Both of those traits show up on tape. Turay plays with good explosion into the backfield. His speed, combined with proper hand usage and understanding should make him an upside bet at this portion of the draft.

As shown below, he is flying past everybody off of the line and puts the right tackle on skates as he flows to the quarterback. He is able to get his hands under the tackles shoulders and drive him backwards.

A quick swipe is all he needs to speed into the Michigan backfield and disrupt the pocket.

Watch the hands below. He is able to get his hands on the shoulder pad of the tackle. As the tackle raises his hands up, he swims underneath with solid turn around the edge to make the play.

His hand placement in the play below is again on point. He is able to rip through the tackle clean and burst into the backfield.

In the play below, he is once again playing with strong hands. He gets his hands inside the tackles and is able to push past him with a path to the quarterback.

However, one thing that can show from the play above is how high he plays. Turay loses a lot of his leverage by essentially standing up by the time he has his hands on the lineman. As he pushes past the tackle, he stumbles as he tries to re-route his path to the quarterback. That quick turn is much easier with a lower center of gravity.

In some of the plays above it can also be noted that his path is a bit elongated due to playing higher and not being able to dip around the edge fluidly enough. He was unable to finish some of his best work. There is a chance that on top of his injury status that he passed on the three-cone drill as well due to getting too high out of his stance.

This can take away a lot of his power in the running game as well. As shown below, a quick chip from the tight end has him off balance for the tackle to completely plow him over. When Turay can be stood up, he loses all that he builds up in speed.

There is some promise in his run defense and his overall playing strength, though. In the play below, he shows understanding of the running back cutting inside. He is able to use his strength and reach to push off the tight end and block off the running lane.

Despite his usage, Turay was not strong off of the ball. His best bet is to try to polish an already established pass rushing base and let the speed take over as a situational pass rusher. The medicals will have to check out, but if he does fall into the fourth round, he would be a steal for the Chicago Bears.

Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest

Duke Ejiofor is a player who missed a chance at striking while the iron was hot. Coming off of a 10.5 sack Red Shirt Junior season, Ejiofor created himself some buzz. However, he decided to go back to school. His RS Senior year saw a decrease in sacks down to 7 and an offseason shoulder surgery that had him miss the combine.

Ejiofor has missed nine games between concussions and his labrum. It is safe to say his stock is down considerably compared to this time one year ago.

Still, what is nice about Ejiofor and what makes him intriguing as a fourth or fifth round option is the base skill set that he brings. When you hear an analyst talk about a pass rusher with vicious hands, a player such as Ejiofor is what they are talking about.

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He has strong and impactful rips to get under lineman.

And he has a heavy punch to get through them. Ejiofor plays with not only heavy hands but precise hands. He has exact movement and has counters to each move with his complete repertoire.

Ejiofor also plays with quick closing speed. He is an upfield penetrator who can use his strength and power to hold the edge and use his speed to close gaps and get into the backfield with meaning.

He knows how to shoot his gaps, and even in his down senior season posted 17 tackles for loss. At the very least, you can get a strong run defender on early downs from Ejiofor.

However, aside from his injury past, he does not possess a strong upside or ceiling. Ejiofor is not an explosive athlete and does not get off of the ball necessarily quick. In the play below, you can see that he is the last Wake Forest defensive lineman out of his stance and into the backfield.

Ejiofor and Turay both come in as older prospects with strong hand usage to establish a base. However, Ejiofor provides a floor as an early-down run stuffer who can use his hands to stay clean at the line of scrimmage.

Turay has issues against the run and with playing strength that gives a more defined floor. However, it also presents a higher ceiling of a potential 10 sack player in a different role.

Ejiofor could get on the field for the Chicago Bears next year as a fourth round pick.

Kylie Fitts, Utah

Kylie Fitts was a four-star recruit coming out of high school. However, after transferring from UCLA to Utah, and putting up a 7 sack season in 2015, Fitts played in just two games before missing the entire 2016 season with a foot injury. In 2017, he missed four more games with a variety of injuries.

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This is what is going to put him into the fourth or fifth round tier. However, as his testing at the combine showed, he should be coming into the NFL completely healthy, and physically mature enough to take snaps next season.

When looking at a pass rusher, the 3-cone drill correlates the most to a high upside in the NFL. Fitts passed the threshold and is considered a force player, which gives him a higher ceiling than most fifth-round picks would.

Fitts is an explosive athlete. This shows on tape. Watch how he is able to get out of the blocks faster than anyone in the play below. He is driving his opposition back by the time anyone else has made contact.

Again, Fitts is exploding into the backfield with speed. He is even with the right tackle before his opposition is out of his stance.

Fitts also plays with good hands and understanding of leverage. He is able to get his hands on the lineman’s shoulders, and swipe through him into the backfield.

You can see Fitts get under the chin strap of the West Virginia right tackle before tossing him to the side like a used candy wrapper.

Below is the full package on display. First, we see the burst. Then, he gets his hands inside the lineman, and uses his right arm to push off of the lineman to create leverage. Finally, he shows his bend and ability to get low around the edge. He forces the quarterback to bail the pocket and step up.

While Fitts can explode off of the ball and knows how to pass rush with purpose, there is more than just his injury concerns dragging him into this part of the draft. Kylie Fitts can struggles to disengage from blocks when moving laterally in the running game. He is able to get upfield but can be pushed aside to seal blocking lanes. You can see below a tight end is able to seal the edge when matched up on Fitts.

However, when he is able to get out of the blocks with a free release, he is able to show off his burst into the backfield and redirect lineman. The guard is unable to get his hands on Fitts early, and he pays the price as the rushing lane is disrupted.

Fitts is also a pesky effort player presenting a floor against the run.  Below he is able to push the tackle into the backfield. A chip block comes in for help, but Fitts holds them both up, tosses the running back aside and relentlessly attacks the quarterback afterward. That is a relentless effort.

With Fitts, the true concern has to be his injury history. This is a high pedigree athlete with high pedigree coming out of high school. He has the tape and nuanced technique to make an impact next season. Despite the ceiling questions and injury concerns, Fitts would be a great swing in the middle rounds for the Chicago Bears.