The Bears defensive line was the main reason why the Bears defense came back strong in the 2010 season after a very disappointing 2009 campaign. It all started with the Free Agency signing of DE Julius Peppers who is considered by most to be arguably the best DE in his era. The acquisition of one of the more dominating defensive lineman we have seen, spring boarded the other DL on the roster to have solid seasons like Israel Idonije, Henry Melton, Matt Toeaina, and Anthony Adams. The line should be much improved this season with the addition of this years 2nd round draft pick DT Stephen Paea, who along with 3rd year player Melton will be trying to fill the void left at the 3 technique position by Tommie Harris who was released before the CBA expired.
Along with Paea and Melton, 2nd year DE Corey Wootton will be one of the many young DL counted on to contribute on the Bears DL, which is why he's feature in today's player spotlight.
Who is Corey Wootton?
At 6-6 270 pounds, Wootton is an interesting player considering he's not the kind of athlete Bears coach Lovie Smith usually covets at the defensive end position. Usually Lovie likes speed rushers with great agility and quickness (Mark Anderson comes to mind), but we got a look last season how Lovie is now going for DE's with pure strength to go along with that agility and quickness. This is probably part of the reason why you saw Israel Idonije starting at LE instead of the quicker more athletic Mark Anderson (the other part being Anderson was just bad).
Started 49-of-53 games played at Northwestern (2005-09), setting the school-record for career starts... Credited with 156 tackles (94 solo), 19.5 sacks and 38.0 TFLs... His 19.5 sacks rank third and 38.0 TFLs rank fourth in school history... Added 4 INTs, 8 PBUs, 3 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries... Also has blocked four kicks... Honored as all-Big Ten selection his junior and senior seasons... Suffered knee injury during the 2008 Alamo Bowl, but returned to action ahead of schedule in order to start the 2009 season... Earned an invitation to the 2010 Senior Bowl, but elected not to play in the game in order to strengthen his knee.
SENIOR: Team co-captain, played in all 13 games (11 starts), posting 21 tackles (16 solo) to go along with 4.0 sacks... Added 6.0 TFLs, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery... Blocked a kick on special teams... Honorable mention all-Big Ten selection by coaches and media... Made his school-record 49th career start in Outback Bowl vs. Auburn... Playboy Preseason All-American... On 2009 watch lists for the Hendricks Award, Chuck Bednarik Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Lott Trophy and Lombardi Award.
JUNIOR: Started all 13 games, finishing fourth in the Big Ten with a career-high 10.0 sacks... Credited with 42 tackles (25 solo) and added 10.0 TFLs, which ranked sixth in the conference... Voted first-team all-Big Ten by conference coaches and second-team all-Big Ten by conference media... Recipient of team's Most Valuable Player Award... Earned team's defensive player of the game honors on three occasions (Southern Illinois, Indiana and Michigan)... Collected 3 tackles, including 1.0 sack, as well as his season's first INT prior to suffering a knee injury in the Alamo Bowl vs. Missouri.
SOPHOMORE: Played in all 12 games, making 11 starts at RDE... Ranked second among the Wildcats defensive linemen with 39 tackles (21 solo)... Tallied 7.0 TFLs, which ranked second on the team... Added 1.0 sack, 1 INT, 5 PBUs and blocked a kick on special teams.
REDSHIRT FRESHMAN: Starting all 12 games at LDE... Led the team in sacks (4.5) and TFL's (9.0)... Collected a career-high 51 tackles (31 solo)... Caused and recovered a fumble... Intercepted two passes and blocked a kick... Named to the Scripps Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) freshman All-American team... Named to The Sporting News' freshman all-Big Ten team... Honorable mention all-Big Ten selection (media) ... Wildcats' Defensive Newcomer of the Year Award recipient. FRESHMAN: Earned a medical hardship year for 2005... Played in three of first four games (starting two), before being sidelined the remainder of the year with a neck injury ... Made his first collegiate start vs. Northern Illinois.
At Northwestern, Wootton was a standout that was being mentioned as late 1st round pick until he tore his ACL in the 2008 Alamo Bowl vs. Missouri. When he didn't have the same impact his senior season as he did his Junior Season; his draft stock took a nose dive all the way to the 4th round of the 2010 NFL Draft where the Bears selected him with the 109th pick. He appeared in 6 games for the Bears rotating in for Julius Peppers and Idonije when they needed a breather. Of course the highlight of his career so far was his vicious sack on Brett Favre against the Vikings on Monday Night Football that pretty much ended Favre's career.
Realistic Expectations for Corey Wootton.
Bears fans got a good look at the type of DE that Wootton is on that memorable sack of Favre. You saw a DE with pure strength and power to go along with good quickness that can make Offensive Tackles feel overmatched. He still has a ways to go as he needs to work on his technique and to add some pass rush moves to his game. Last year he was playing just off his talent and pure strength, but next year the coaches will need him to be more fundamentally sound at the position. He should get more playing time this year and if performs very well early on he should be able to cut into Idonije's time at LE.