Even before the start of this summer’s training camp, the starting defensive line of the Chicago Bears already seems to be set. Obviously, the bookends of the defensive front will be Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston. On the interior, Jeremiah Ratliff and Stephen Paea are penciled in as the starting defensive tackles. However, the playing time of Ratliff and Paea could be cut into by rookie defensive tackle Will Sutton.
The Bears selected Sutton in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft, right after the addition of fellow rookie defensive tackle Ego Ferguson in the second round. Although Sutton was drafted a round later than Ferguson, he has a much better upside. The former Arizona State Sun Devil was a two-time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and a First-Team All-American.
In addition to Ferguson, Paea and Ratliff, Sutton will be in competition against Nate Collins, who is coming off reconstructive knee surgery. And there are also undrafted free agent rookies Brandon Dunn and Lee Pegues who round out the defensive tackle depth chart. I think that it’s safe to say that Dunn and Pegues won’t pose a threat to Sutton when it comes to making the 53-man roster.
Despite missing the first couple of days of minicamp, Sutton should still be in a good position to compete for a roster spot for the 2014 season. I don’t think that there is a chance of him cracking the starting lineup right off the bat, but in due time he most definitely could. But in the meantime, Sutton should be the Chicago’s primary backup at the three-technique.