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After likely taking safety first, Bears could target Arizona State DT Sutton

ArizonState defensivelineman Will Suttruns 40-yard dash NFL football scouting combine Indianapolis Monday Feb. 24 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG

Arizona State defensivelineman Will Sutton runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Monday, Feb. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) ORG XMIT: INNH10

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It appears likely that the Bears’ draft plans for rebuilding their defense will mimic construction-site signs: Safety first.

If so, who’s second?

As the Bears look to bolster their defensive-tackle positions, Arizona State’s Will Sutton, a two-time Pac-12 defensive player of the year, could be an attractive second-round choice.

The feeling, it seems, is mutual.

“Of course, any team that runs the 4-3 defense is a perfect fit for me,” Sutton, who visited the Bears last week, said Tuesday. “The Bears had some struggles last year at D-line, and they’re probably going to draft heavy in the D-line department.”

The 6-foot, 292-pounder fits as a three-technique tackle as the Bears look to replace departed free agent Henry Melton.

Among the six top defensive tackles available — Notre Dame’s Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt, Minnesota’s Ra’Shede Hageman, Florida State’s Timmy Jernigan and Pittsburgh’s Aaron Donald are the others — Sutton ranked second in career tackles, sacks and tackles for loss.

He trails only Donald, the defensive tackle most likely to be drafted first, in all three categories.

“Being in the Pac-12, it’s an offense-heavy conference,” he said. “A lot of no-huddle offenses, spread, throw the ball. The NFL is going in that direction.”

Sutton’s junior year, in which he had 13 sacks, was among the best in league history.

Eschewing early draft entry — “It was a close, tough decision,” he said — Sutton bulked up as a senior. He said he was schemed for and double-teamed “from the first game through the last,” but he was an All-American for a second consecutive season.

Sutton downsized after the NFL Scouting Combine, losing 11 pounds to get to what he calls the ideal weight for a three-technique tackle.

“Everybody was telling me I needed to get bigger [in college],” he said. “Then I got bigger, and now it’s a bad thing. I found my happy medium.”

Sutton trained six days a week in Irvine, Calif., before returning to ASU. He has met privately with two NFL teams and said he’s excited to see where he lands next month.

“I feel that I’m one of the top D-linemen in the draft,” Sutton said.

NOTE: The NFL will release its regular-season schedule Wednesday at 7  p.m.


Twitter: @patrickfinley

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