Bears draft Wildcats' Wootton
The Bears stayed with the defensive theme in the fifth round, selecting Kansas State cornerback Joshua Moore in the fifth round (141st overall). Moore, at 5-11, 188 pounds, appears to be more of a nickel or dime corner, who will likely contribute more on special teams next season than on defense.
The Bears consider Wootton, a defensive end, to be somewhat of a steal, considering the production he engineered as a junior [10 sacks, 42 tackles] before tearing the ACL, MCL, and meniscus in the 2008 Alamo Bowl.
Prior to the catastrophic knee injury, it was believed Wootton would enter the NFL draft following his junior season.
"Everything happens for a reason," Wootton said. "I wanted to come back [to school] to get smarter, a year stronger. I'm just lucky to have an opportunity to play for a great team, the Bears. I feel like I'm 90-95 percent [healthy], somewhere around there."
Rushing his rehabilitation somewhat, Wootton returned to play as a senior, and contributed 21 tackles and four sacks for the Wildcats. The Bears recently clocked Wootton's 40-yard dash time in the 4.9-second range.
"We don't think he's back 100 percent yet," said Greg Gabriel, Bears director of college scouting. "He probably rushed his rehab; this is what we think. When our medical people looked at him [the saw] the knee is solid."
The Bears anticipate Wootton returning to full health in time to participate in July at training camp. A torn ACL typically takes 12 to 18 months of recovery time. Wootton underwent surgery in January 2009, and returned to action in time to start all 11 games that season Northwestern.
"That's hard to do," Gabriel said. "That probably hindered his rehab a little. So he wasn't quite as explosive [as a senior]."
Wootton started in 49 of 53 career games for the Wildcats, finishing with 19.5 sacks [third in school history], 38 tackles for lost yardage, three fumble recoveries, and four blocked kicks. Wooton also intercepted four passes.
The Bears anticipate Wootton playing on the left side.
"It was tough," Wootton said of his struggles last season. "I didn't have the leg strength after the prior year. But it made me appreciate the game that much more; [it] made me more of a film studier. I'm very familiar with Chicago being where everybody's a Bears fan. It's a program I wanted to play for. It's a good fit for me, and I can't wait for minicamp and all that."
Michael C. Wright covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com.