The long national nightmare is over. The Bears have finally made an investment into an edge pass rusher, drafting Utah’s Kylie Fitts with the No. 181 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
Fitts is an edge defender that fits what the Bears want for their outside pass rushers to a tee. He had some durability issues during his amateur career, which is why he slipped all the way to the sixth round. But when Fitts is on, he’s a dynamic pass rusher. This is a thorough upside move that could pay off with tremendous dividends. He “Fitts” into the Bears’ defense.
I apologize for nothing.
Let’s grade Chicago’s selection of Fitts at No. 181 overall.
In terms of natural gifts and complete well-rounded ability, Fitts is one of the best pass rushers in this draft. He has an excellent explosion upfield and uses his hands with purpose. He’s extremely refined when working against offensive tackles and nuanced in how he attacks quarterbacks. His change of direction is also off the charts and his bend is exactly what you seek in outside linebackers.
With the proper amount of development time, Fitts is the long term starter opposite Leonard Floyd. I would characterize him as the one of the steals of this draft. He can be that good.
Ah, but there always has to be a “but.”
Injuries derailed most of Fitts’ time at Utah. After suffering a foot injury in his junior year, Fitts never fully recovered enough to withstand other physical rigors. He played in just nine of 24 games in his last two seasons. Not exactly what you seek from a premier defender. This is somewhat reminiscent of what Aaron Lynch has went through as a professional, though, so it signals a heavy amount of Bears’ faith in defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to round his group into form.
If Fitts had stayed healthy, the Bears would’ve never had a shot at him in the sixth round because he was on a roll going into that fateful junior year. As a sophomore, he had seven sacks and seven tackles for loss to go with 40 tackles. He showcased his speed, explosion, and ability to use his length effectively for leverage. That version of Fitts is everything the Bears want in a starter on defense. That version of Fitts is a guy that Fangio can more than work with.
Provided the plan goes swimmingly (sometimes it does!), Chicago is working with a primary edge rotation of Floyd, Lynch, Fitts, Sam Acho, and maybe even Nick Kwiatkoski. If not, not many sixth rounders are hits for NFL teams anyway. You can’t blame the Bears for taking a flier and attempting to work this edge project. This is why coaches like Fangio are paid so handsomely.
It’s time for Fangio to finish up his Bears’ defense and put on the final pristine touches. With good health, Fitts plays a huge part in that construction.
Now it’s turn. Grade the Bears’ pick of Fitts at No. 181 overall:
What grade do you give the Bears’ selection of Kylie Fitts at No. 181 overall?
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Robert Zeglinski is the Bears beat writer for The Rock River Times, an editor for Windy City Gridiron and Inside The Pylon, and is a contributor to Pro Football Weekly and The Athletic Chicago. You can follow him on Twitter @RobertZeglinski.