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Guards Chris Watt, Zach Fulton gear up for Bears local pro day on Friday
The path to the NFL has taken Notre Dame’s Chris Watt and Tennessee’s Zach Fulton out of their comfort zones at guard — a position they’ve handled exceptionally well at big-time programs for years.
But Watt and Fulton are all for broadening their horizons or, in other words, working at center for NFL teams.
“Every team has had me snap at least a few times every time they came in,” Watt said.
“I’ve been working on my snaps,” Fulton added.
And their hometown Bears may ask Watt (Glenbard West) and Fulton (Homewood-Flossmoor) to do the same when they take part in the team’s local pro day at Halas Hall on Friday.
General manager Phil Emery addressed the offensive line in the 2013 draft, selecting guard Kyle Long and tackle Jordan Mills, and the Bears’ entire starting five up front returns for the 2014 season. But even with Long and Matt Slauson entrenched at guard for the Bears, a need for a reserve guard/center exists. Some prospects were made aware of that during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
The Bears re-signed veteran center Roberto Garza to a one-year deal. Behind Garza are recently signed veteran Brian de la Puente and the inexperienced Taylor Boggs. Eben Britton was brought back on a one-year deal to back up the rest of the offensive line like last year.
“I’m really open to playing any position at this point,” Watt said. “Most of the teams want me to be able to know the three interior positions because that’s the best way to get onto the field.”
Teams definitely have taken notice of Watt, a 6-3, 310-pounder who is a third- or fourth-round pick in NFL.com’s projections.
Watt said he would be “ready to play a game at this point” and is “pretty much 100 percent” after an MCL injury limited him at the combine. He said he has worked out for several teams at Notre Dame.
“I have had good positive feedback as far as my film review with teams,” said Watt, who started 34 consecutive games at Notre Dame. “Being able to adapt to what they’re teaching is important.”
Fulton, who started 40 of 43 games at right guard in college, feels the same way. He and his Tennessee teammates have taken to practicing drills they’ve learned through recent workouts with NFL teams on campus.
“There’s been lots of meetings with coaches and doing a lot of board work,” said the 6-5, 316-pound Fulton, who has been part of workouts with the Lions, Falcons, Panthers and others.
“They are all saying that our whole offensive line is capable of playing at the next level. That’s the big thing they’re saying so far.”
Watt and Fulton are both regarded as solid run blockers.
“Overall, I’m a tough player,” Fulton said. “That’s what offensive linemen need to be — tough in general.”
“I’m someone who is going to show up every day and come to work,” Watt said.
Fulton said he didn’t have a favorite team growing up, but for Watt, who attended Bears training camps as a kid, heading to Halas Hall will be surreal.
“But I have to make sure I’m at my best and the coaches see my best effort,” Watt said.
What if that means playing center?
“I’m definitely ready in that aspect,” Watt said.