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Updated: May 9, 2014 10:45AM
It turned out to be the dream scenario general manager Phil Emery hoped for when the Bears’ No. 14 pick had to be made. Three of their six targeted players were on the board.
“When the New York Giants turned their pick in, I went, ‘We’re not moving anywhere. We’re going to get a really good player,’ ” Emery said.
Enter Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller.
“This a player that is universally loved in our building,” Emery said Thursday night at Halas Hall after selecting Fuller.
The Bears’ pick of Fuller lacked some of the shock value of the selections of Shea McClellin (2012) and Kyle Long (2013), but he fits the mold of an Emery-type player. He has positional versatility, and Emery made note of it more than once.
“Coming in, I feel like they know that I can play corner or nickel or possibly at safety,” said Fuller, who had a formal interview with the Bears at the NFL combine and a predraft visit. “Whatever it is, I’m a versatile player.”
The only surprise is that the Bears opted for a cornerback — a potential down-the-road replacement for Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman — and not one of the top two safeties. Louisville’s Calvin Pryor and Alabama’s Ha Ha Clinton-Dix were available.
Fuller was the Bears’ top-rated cornerback, and Emery expects him to contribute immediately. Eventually, he’ll push to start “as time permits and our roster changes over time,” Emery said. “He is a corner; that’s how we see him. We see him as a guy who has a lot of versatility in terms of coverage.”
Emery said having Fuller improves the Bears’ ability to match up against “inside receivers” and “different types of athletes.” He’s good in press coverage and played well against North Carolina tight end Eric Ebron, who was drafted by the Detroit Lions.
Emery also highlighted Fuller’s tackling ability, especially in performances against Georgia Tech and Alabama, and mentioned his 123 solo tackles.
“No matter what tape you turned on, he was a very good player,” Emery said.
Fuller started 42 of 50 games at Virginia Tech, including 14 in a nickel-back/linebacker role. He made six interceptions and broke up 26 passes (including 10 in 2013). In 2011, he had 14½ tackles for loss and 4½ sacks.
“All-out effort,” Emery said.
At one point, it looked as if defensive tackle Aaron Donald would be available for the Bears at No. 14. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and new coach Lovie Smith passed at No. 7. And the Minnesota Vikings (eighth overall) and Giants (12th overall) followed suit.
But the St. Louis Rams, one pick ahead of the Bears, pounced on the consensus best defensive tackle in the draft.
“Donald is a great player, a player that we liked,” Emery said. “Happy for St. Louis, happy for him.
“But we’re extremely happy that we got Kyle Fuller.”
Fuller is the third member of his family to play in the NFL. His older brother Corey, a receiver, was drafted by the Lions last year. Emery said the Fullers are an impressive family.
“My parents did a real good job,” said Fuller, who checked out medically after missing the Senior Bowl because of a sports hernia.
Fuller got a high grade from special-teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, but it’s his play at cornerback and at nickel that bears the most watching at rookie minicamp next weekend and during organized team activities.
“I know Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings, they’re two Pro Bowl corners,” Fuller said. “I’m definitely looking forward to coming in and learning from those guys.”