By Brian MacIver
Just before legendary Bears linebacker Dick Butkus announced Chicago’s second-round draft pickFriday night, he endorsed it.
“I like this,” he said.
This, Butkus said, was the selection of Florida State nose tackle Eddie Goldman to help the Bears’ beleaguered defense.
“To hear him say that — ‘And I like this’ — it’s so subtle and so small,” Goldman said, “but coming from him, it kind of made my heart drop a little bit.”
Chicago addressed the middle of both sides of the line on Day Two of the draft. After selecting the 6-foot-4, 336-pound Goldman 39th overall to anchor the new 3-4 defense, the Bears picked Oregon center Hroniss Grasu in the third round.
Though touted for his interior run-stopping ability, Goldman says he has the versatility to play on the outside, as well.
Either way, he seems happy to land in Chicago.
“It’s the perfect team for me and the way I like to play,” Goldman said, “so I’m happy with it.”
Grasu adds depth to a Chicago offensive line that under-performed and was sometimes disappointing last year. He also has starting potential and could make for an interesting competition at center.
Goldman understands the history of his position and the game.
“My dad would take me and basically school me on defensive tackles before my time,” Goldman said during the NFL Combine, pointing to such favorites as Tony Brackens, Carl Eller and Merlin Olsen, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
Goldman modeled his game after Jay Ratliff and even wore Ratliff’s No. 90 in college.
“As far as his game,” Goldman said in a conference call, “I just liked how physical he was and his quickness and his grit and stuff like that.”
Now he will join Ratliff in Chicago.
“I just look forward to learning a lot from him and playing alongside him,” Goldman said.
As for Grasu, he has a chance to replace 2014 center Roberto Garza, who was waived last month.
Grasu could have left school last year, when he was considered the top center available. Instead of declaring for the 2014 Draft, he returned to the Ducks because of their returning talent and the chance for a national championship run. Oregon lost to Ohio State in the title game.
“For me,” Grasu told the Oregonian in December 2013, “it was a no-brainer.”
This season, a leg injury cost him the past three games of the regular season and the Pac-12 championship game. He returned for the inaugural NCAA playoffs.
Additional reporting by Nicholas Kariuki.