The Bears started rebuilding the offense under Marc Trestman in free agency and continued the process in the first round of the NFL draft Thursday, albeit with a player no one expected.
Leaving Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert on the board, the Bears went for an interior lineman with a great pedigree, selecting Oregon guard Kyle Long with the 20th overall pick.
The son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long and the brother of Rams defensive end Chris Long, he becomes the first guard the club has selected in the first round since Roger Davis in 1960.
Bears general manager Phil Emery made it known he was interested in trading down, but after the pick he made it clear the team wasn't moving if Long was on the board.
"We had some conversations prior to the draft but nothing that would take us off that pick," Emery said. "Kyle had to be gone.
"He is the type of athlete and player that we have targeted. Fast, tough, dynamic athlete. Obviously, he has had an interesting road. He's going to start out a guard. We feel like he can be a starting right tackle. We feel he can be a good left tackle."
In an unusual first round of the NFL draft, only one offensive skill position player was selected in the first 15 picks. Left tackles went 1-2 for the first time in history, as Central Michigan's Eric Fisher to the Chiefs and Texas A&M's Luke Joeckel to the Jaguars topped the draft.
Then, the Eagles selected Lane Johnson at No. 4 and guards Jonathan Cooper (Arizona) and Chance Warmack (Tennessee) didn't make it out of the top 10.
The Chargers took right tackle D.J. Fluker 11th, the third consecutive Crimson Tide player to come off the board. Then, the Giants selected Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh 19th, a player they may move to the interior.
So, Long, 6- feet 6, 313 pounds, was the eighth offensive lineman selected, and now the Bears have another player in the mix to protect quarterback Jay Cutler.
The Bears signed left tackle Jermon Bushrod in free agency and added tight end Martellus Bennett, one reason why Eifert was not more appealing to them.
Long, a former draft pick of the White Sox, played in only 11 games at Oregon with four starts late last season.
He applied for an extra year, but the NCAA turned him down. He went to Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif., in 2010 as a defensive end.
He moved to left tackle in 2011 before transferring to Oregon. Originally, he went to Florida State to play baseball in 2008, but flunked out there. He also has a DUI in his background and reportedly attended a drug rehab program.
But Emery said he was an exemplary leader at Oregon and was forthright about issues that he has overcome. The Bears feel like he can be plugged in quickly for offensive coordinator Aaron Kromer, who had success developing young players for the Saints.
"We see a player who is going to contribute right away," Emery said. "His Senior Bowl was excellent. I thought he was the best O-lineman on the field."
The Bears hold the 50th overall pick in the second round, and Emery said he is open to trading down again to help recoup picks. The Bears are without a third-round pick.