The Chicago Bears traded up twice in the 2016 NFL Draft to get the linebackers that they wanted. The first one came in the first round and that brought potential starter Leonard Floyd. The second trade up came in the 4th round, and it was to bolster the depth at inside linebacker and add to the special teams.
When the Bears traded up, I don't think many fans expected inside linebacker to be the target, but by adding Nick Kwiatkoski they got some insurance behind their two new ILB free agents.
Kwiatkoski was a tackling machine during his time at West Virginia, amassing 267 tackles during the last three years. He added 28.5 tackles for loss, 6 sacks and 6 interceptions during that time. In high school He played the Will, the Sam and the Mike during his time with the Mountaineers, but he'll be playing one of the ILB spots for the Bears.
Here's the full transcript from his conference call with the media.
On his relationship with Bears WR Kevin White (a former West Virginia teammate);
"I'm pretty close with Kevin. He came in to West Virginia as a JUCO player and he lived two doors down from me. So, over the years, I've gotten real close with him and I stayed close with him now. I actually roomed with his brother Caron at West Virginia this past year."
On move to linebacker at West Virginia;
"I came in to West Virginia as a safety weighing about 205 pounds. After I redshirted my freshman year, we got a new defensive coordinator and as soon as he came in, he pulled me into his office and say ‘hey you're going to move to linebacker'. I was open to the idea. I didn't know much at the time, but it definitely after that first year of being a linebacker it was a smooth transition."
On what gave him the ability to flourish at linebacker;
"Probably just staying in the film room. That was probably the hardest thing for me, was just kind of reacting so close to the line of scrimmage. But being in the film room just learning different things, different techniques, it definitely helped me become a better linebacker. It was quicker for me than most who've played [linebacker] their whole lives."
On where he sees himself playing in the Bears defense;
"First off, the Bears have a long line of great linebackers. So, that makes me really happy to be a part of. They are a hard-nose defense. I haven't talked about where I'm going to be at in the defense yet. But I think I bring versatility and the linebacker instincts. I believe I can play multiple positions and I'm just happy to get to work."
On contact with the Bears during the pre-draft process;
"We spoke at the senior bowl and the combine. No visits or anything like that, but a couple of phone calls. So it wasn't a great extent. (The Bears) calling me wasn't a surprise. There were other teams that had more contact with me, but them calling me wasn't much of a surprise, it was just a great feeling."
On what his style of play is;
"I play hard-nose linebacker. I like to hit, I like to be physical, but at the same time I'm versatile. I feel like I can cover and especially playing in West Virginia's defense, I played many positions there, so I think it helps my versatility."
On potential of playing special teams for the Bears;
"I played special teams my freshman and sophomore years. I played kickoff, punt and kickoff return. I love special teams and I love all of them. I was actually injured - my sophomore year and came back after a game and they took me off of special teams, but I love special teams. I love running down the field. I'm excited to be a part of the Bears special teams."
On possibility of having to learn behind Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan;
"Two great linebackers. I watched them play over the past couple of years. I'm happy to learn from linebackers like that and I feel I can take a lot from guys like that."
On being coached by defensive coordinator Vic Fangio;
"He utilizes the linebackers very well. Just watching the Bears and getting to know him through the process, the utilization of the linebackers he does a lot with them. A lot of different things which I think that benefits me."
On concerns he heard during the pre-draft process;
"I mean it was just a lot of little things technique-wise, kind of using hands. It was small things here and there. Not biting on play fakes, like I said using the hands. Just little things in my drops, nothing major. These are things I've been working already and just taking the feedback and using it as motivation when I go workout."
On the type of gathering he had for the draft;
"Nothing big. Friends and family at my house watching [the draft]. Relaxed and just played the waiting game."
On his use in sub packages and dropping back in coverage;
"My junior year I played a lot more of the sub packages. This past year I played them, but not as much. But I feel like I can stay on the field for a third-down guy and sub packages. This year I transitioned to an outside linebacker so I covered a lot more than I did in prior years, so that definitely helps contribute to that."
What are your thoughts on Nick Kwiatkoski's conference call?