Bears try to shore up LB corps with Khaseem GreeneContinue reading.
Bears draft big-play LB Khaseem Greene in 4th round
The Bears continued to address a need at linebacker with the departure of 2012 starters Brian Urlacher and Nick Roach, selecting Rutgers linebacker Khaseem Greene in the fourth round (117th overall) of the NFL draft Saturday. The Bears drafted Florida’s Jon Bostic in the second round (50th overall) on Friday.
The 6-0 1/2, 241-pound Greene is a good fit for the Bears on several levels, but particularly as a playmaker. He set an NCAA record with 15 forced fumbles — playing two years at safety and two at outside linebacker. He also was credited with 46 touchdown-saving tackles and forced lineman to jump offsides 18 times in two seasons at linebacker.
”I don’t give up on any plays,” Greene said in a conference call with Chicago-area reporters Saturday, ”whether I’m in front of the guy and trying to put my face on the ball to cause a fumble or [trying] to strip him or coming in as the second man or third man and stripping him.”
Greene was the Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, with six forced fumbles (tied for second in the country behind Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, who had seven), three fumble recoveries, two interceptions and 12 tackes-for-loss.
”My mentality is I want to get the ball back,” Greene said. ”I want to get it to my offense or even better, pick it up and score. That’s my philosophy when it comes to defense — getting to the ball, creating takeaways and going from there. It’s always instilled in my head. It’s something I worked on for the last five years at Rutgers and I’m going to work on it going forward from here.”
Greene started his college career as a safety and was productive as a starter in 2010. But coach Greg Schiano moved him to linebacker in spring practice in 2011 to improve the Scarlet Knights’ overall team speed at the position and Greene flourished. He was named the Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2010, with 141 tackles, 14 tackles-for-loss, 3 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Like Bostic, Greene is a versatile player who could get a chance at any of the three linebacker positions in the Bears’ defense. His experience at safety, he said, has helped improve his pass-coverage ability — a big advantage in the Bears’ zone defense.
”I think I can play wherever I need to,” Greene said. ”Teams were telling me they liked me on the inside in a 3-4 scheme. Some teams said they liked me at will in a 4-3 scheme. They gave me the feeedback I needed to know that I can play in the league and be a linebacker and play any position on the field. That’s how I feel. I know I can play inside or outside. Whatever the Bears need from me, I’m going to work my hardest to do it and be that guy who’s productive when it’s time for me to play.”
The Bears have signed veteran linebackers D.J. Williams and James Anderson to fill the voids left by the departures of Urlacher and Roach. But Bostic and Greene are sure to get a chance to win starting jobs.
How soon does Greene expect to be a regular on defense?
”I’m not sure,” he said. ”I’m coming into a great situation I’m just extremely happy and excited to be in this position, to come into such a great organization and be able to compete.
”As far as coming in and starting, I’m just going to take it one day at a time. I can’t say too much how that’s going to go. I’m looking to come in and compete and contribute in any way I can.”
Greene is well aware of the Bears’ legacy of great linebackers and referenced it more than once in his conference call — mentioning Butkus, Singletary in addition to Lance Briggs and Urlacher.
”I’m extremely excited to be a part of that,” Greene said. ”If you’re a young linebacker and you want to go down in history as one of the greats, I don’t see a better place to be.”