Kyle Long followed his bloodlines to the NFL. He won't be lining up on the same side of the line as his famous family members, though.
The Chicago Bears selected the sone of Oakland Raider legend Howie Long with the 20th pick in the draft Thursday night, adding the guard from Oregon to a line that has ranked among the NFL's worst in recent years.
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There were a number of ways the Bears could have gone, given their needs for depth and youth on both sides of the ball. They were also interested in moving down and acquiring more picks since they had just five.
Some mock drafts had the Bears going with linebackers Alec Ogletree of Georgia and Notre Dame's Manti Te'o, along with Fighting Irish tight end Tyler Eifert. All three were on the board, but Chicago decided to draft a guard in the first round for the first time since 1960 in Long, brother of St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long.
"Very clear statement that we wanted this player," general manager Phil Emery said. "The draft's not over, so we'll have other opportunities at those other positions. This is the player we wanted."
With Long in the mix along with newcomers Jermon Bushrod at left tackle and guard Matt Slauson, the offensive line will have a different look after allowing 44 sacks and 87 quarterback hits last season.
Kyle Long becomes the latest member of his family to reach the NFL even though his college football experience was limited.
A rifle-armed pitcher at St. Anne's-Belfield high school in Ivy, Va., he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 23rd round in 2008 but wound up going to Florida State on a baseball scholarship. Academic issues forced him to leave FSU, and he also wound up spending a night in jail because of a DUI in January 2009.
Long returned home, straightened himself out and enrolled at Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, Calif., in 2010 and wound up making the switch from pitcher to defensive end. He moved to the offensive line the following year with the Gauchos, and emerged as a key piece in Chip Kelly's breakneck offense in his lone season with Oregon in 2012 even though he made only five starts and 11 appearances.
In the five games he started at left guard, the 6-foot-6, 313-pound Long recorded six touchdown-resulting blocks and 36 knockdowns. And the Ducks led the Pac-12 in total offense and scoring.
"I feel like I can get a lot better with coaching, with the right guys around me," Long said. "I feel like have that opportunity in Chicago."
As for his past?
"I was a young kid and I was dealing with some stuff off the field that I had to work through," he said. "I'm past it now. I'm four years, 4½ years removed from those issues. I really feel like my best ball is ahead of me."
Emery said he thinks Long can play both guard and tackle spots. He believes the issues he had in the past are just that - in the past - and sees him emerging as a leader.
"All of us have fallen in life at one point or another," Emery said. "The important thing is do we get up and do we move forward? Do we try to prepare ourselves better. Not only get ourselves better, but get those around us better, and that's what this man has done. He was a team leader at Oregon. He was there one fall."
Emery also said he might be the best athlete in the family, although Kyle Long dismissed that.