Notice: Jonathan Bullard Is Someone To Notice

Notice: Jonathan Bullard Is Someone To Notice

Danny Shimon loves watching tape of college prospects and Chicago Bears players. He recently took the clicker out and spent time scrutinizing the play of 3rd round draft pick Jonathan Bullard. What he noticed was that Bullard is someone Bears fans will notice every week.

After having watched the Bears second preseason game versus New England for the third time the one constant throughout the game that kept catching my eye was rookie third-round pick Jonathan Bullard.

While the stats might indicate that Bullard’s effect on the game was minimal (2 assisted tackles and half-sack) the tape, on the other hand, shows Bullard continually blowing up the Patriots offensive guard lined up in front of him and creating opportunities for his teammates by drawing extra blockers.

The rookie out of the University of Florida has put together a nice training camp exhibiting some of the explosive traits that made him a highly productive defender for the Gators. As a senior Bullard registered 18 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

Against New England Bullard was able to repeatedly knock-back the offensive lineman in front of him effectively bullying him back, like he was wearing skates, and helping to collapse the pocket. His quickness at the snap coupled with his strength and length allowed him to continuously win at the point-of-contact. With Bullard pushing the lineman two to three yards back off the line there were plays where New England’s running backs were forced to alter their paths in order to go around Bullard and his blocker which allowed for Bullard’s teammates to come up and make a tackle or a play.

Bullard’s ability to win at the snap allowed his teammate, and fellow rookie first-rounder Leonard Floyd, to generate some outside pressure as his lineman was preoccupied looking inside to see if the guard needed help with Bullard.

Case in point the third quarter sack Bullard and Floyd teamed up on which halted a Patriots drive and resulted in a punt. Bullard was again the first defensive lineman off at the snap of the ball and he blew up the guard causing the outside tackle to peek in which in affect gave Floyd not only a step on the lineman but Bullard’s penetration allowed Floyd to loop around and come through the opening up the middle where he and Bullard met up at the quarterback.

These are just a coupled examples of the type of impact Bullard can have on the Bears defense, and his teammates, this season playing a two-gap defensive end (5-technique) position.
Bullard did also exhibit some of the same deficiencies in his game that allowed him to be available for the Bears to select in the third round.

For example, Bullard will need to continue developing as a pass rusher by working on his technique to improve his ability to create pressure on the passer. Other than a bull rush Bullard has not polished a counter move to use in case his initial rush is thwarted by the offensive lineman.

Bullard also displayed some hip stiffness as he was unable to quickly bend around blockers shoot through an opening that would have led him directly to Patriots Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Instead Bullard had to slow down to regain control which allowed not only the opening to disappear but the blocker to catch up to him and effectively block him out of the way.

Currently, Bullard’s value on the defensive line is enhanced by his ability to win at the line and be an effective two-gapping defensive end allowing linebackers like Danny Trevathan, and Jerrel Freeman the room to move freely and unimpeded to the ball carriers.

While he may not always fill up a stat sheet Bullard’s importance on a young developing defensive front will not go unnoticed by the Bear’s coaching staff, and certainly shouldn’t go unnoticed by Bear fans.

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Danny Shimon

Danny Shimon

NFL Draft Columnist for NFL writer for National Football post and NFCNBarroom

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