Bears draft Nathan Enderle, J.T. Thomas

Updated: May 2, 2011, 12:54 PM ET
By Jeff Dickerson | ESPNChicago.com

LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- The Chicago Bears achieved their goal of bringing in a developmental quarterback by selecting Idaho's Nathan Enderle in the fifth round (No. 160 overall) on the draft's third day, before wrapping up the 2011 class with depth at linebacker in West Virginia product J.T. Thomas, a sixth-round pick.

"We worked with the coaches on this, we worked [Enderle] out personally, and feel good about the selection," Bears director of player personnel Tim Ruskell said. "He's a big guy. He's got a very strong arm. He's a very intelligent man and intelligent quarterback. I saw him two years when I was in Seattle and saw him play against Jake [Locker] in Washington and he really went toe to toe with him."

In 37 starts, Enderle -- 6-foot-4, 234 pounds -- threw for 8,181 yards, 62 touchdowns and 53 interceptions. He impressed Bears offensive coordinator Mike Martz during a private workout on the Idaho campus, a workout that ultimately convinced the Bears to burn a draft choice on a quarterback despite other potential needs on the roster.

[+] EnlargeNathan Enderle
Jason O. Watson/US PresswireBears draft pick Nathan Enderle threw for 8,181 yards and 62 touchdowns in 37 starts at Idaho.

"It was awesome when [Martz] came out there and you can tell he has so much football knowledge," Enderle said. "He started to tweak with my drop and a few things I was doing physically just while he was out there. He's a really good coach and somebody I'd like to work with.

"I knew it was a possibility [to be drafted by Bears]. I came into it with an open mind not really knowing where I would fall and where I would go to, but I knew they were a possibility and that he liked me when they came out and saw me. So I'm excited about that."

Enderle, a former college teammate of Bears fullback Eddie Williams, is expected to enter training camp as the club's No. 3 quarterback behind Jay Cutler and Caleb Hanie.

"I am comfortable [with Hanie as the No. 2] and obviously the coaches are, so I think that's probably how they go into it," Ruskell said.

This marks the second consecutive year the Bears have drafted a quarterback in the late rounds. Bears general manager Jerry Angelo took Dan LeFevour in the sixth round in 2010, but cut the quarterback following training camp with the intention of signing LeFevour to the practice squad. The Cincinnati Bengals, however, scooped LeFevour off waivers and added him to their 53-man active roster.

"Very happy with today's prospects in picking up a quarterback," Angelo said. "Coach Martz went to work him out. We saw him at an all-star game in San Antonio. Tim [Ruskell] did a lot of work on him when he was in Seattle. His junior year, we had heard talk of him coming out early. We had a pretty good handle on him. We felt like with the value of the position precipitated everything else for us.

"We want to develop our own quarterbacks, and we want to stay with that plan. We feel very good with him coming on board."

Projected as an outside linebacker, Thomas joins the Bears with a bit of off-the-field baggage. In 2007, Thomas was arrested for transferring and receiving stolen property (laptop), but had the charges dropped after completing a diversion program.

Thomas produced 73 tackles as a senior at West Virginia, with seven tackles for lost yardage and 2.5 sacks, in addition to two forced fumbles on the way to earning first-team all-Big East honors.

"He fits us perfectly; can play all three positions," Angelo said. "We spent a lot of time on him. We feel very, very good about his fit. Picking up a linebacker was a goal today if he was the right one."

Thomas described Bears cornerback Joshua Moore -- a fifth-rounder in 2010 -- as one of his "best high-school friends" and said he's already received some advice about what it's like to play for the team.

"He told me that if you love football, you'll love playing for the Bears," Thomas said. "He said that there was a reason why the Bears were always one of the best defenses in the league. It will be very fun."

Angelo said the team did the best it could in this year's draft "given what we were dealt."

"[It's] a very tough hand when you're picking at the bottom [of the] rounds," Angelo said. "We're happy with the players. I feel strongly all these players should make our football team. All these players fit the prototype of what we were looking for at their positions. Some of them will be early contributors, some will give us quality depth, and some will make an impact on special teams."

Jeff Dickerson covers the Bears for ESPNChicago.com. Michael Wright contributed to this report.

Jeff Dickerson | email

Chicago Bears beat reporter
Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.