Chicago Bears

Chicago Bears: Vernon Gholston Coming in Under the Radar

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 21:  Vernon Gholston #50 of the New York Jets Tackles Matt Shaub #8 of the Houston Texans during their  game on November21, 2010 at the New Meadowlands Stadium  in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
Aris TheotokatosCorrespondent IAugust 4, 2011

Defensive end Vernon Gholston had monumental expectations when he was drafted by the New York Jets. After three seasons, he has yet to record a sack, and the most tackles he's made in a season is 17—hardly worth being the No. 6 overall pick, let alone being drafted at all. He's a mystery, that's for sure, and he's certainly not the first defensive end to be labeled a bust.

Gholston recorded 14.5 sacks (a school record) for Ohio State in 2007. He totaled 21.5 sacks in his college career, so there were questions about him being a one-hit wonder.

And maybe he was, but he was never a 3-4 stand-up linebacker, which is the position the Jets drafted him to play at. Granted, he actually did convert back to defensive end after 2009, but even then he received very little playing time.

Maybe his practice habits weren't impressive, or maybe the pressure of his huge contract was too much for him to perform. 

So the Bears take a low-risk chance by signing him, and giving him the opportunity to jump-start his career. Chicago runs a 4-3 defense, and it's at its best when the defensive ends are getting pressure on the quarterback. 

Also, playing opposite Julius Peppers will only help. We saw Israel Idonije have a breakout season (one he owes many thanks to Peppers for), and all over the league defensive ends such as Ray Edwards (playing opposite Jared Allen) are left to go one-on-one with the offensive tackles. What more could a defensive end dream for?

To add to the "Peppers factor," one thing Ohio State defensive players all have is versatility. Peppers loves to switch between the two defensive end spots, so that plays right into Gholston's strength as he did the same thing at Ohio State.

Bears fans shouldn't expect a sudden explosion of sacks this season from Gholston, but Rod Marinelli is known for getting the most out of his D-linemen. And the Bears do need pass-rushing help since they consistently only rush four.   

Gholston arrived to training camp with zero expectations. The pressure of being the No. 6 overall pick in New York City is long gone. He's a physical specimen at 6'3" and 260 pounds, so the raw talent is still there.

He still has to make the team, so it's a little too early to dream any bold predictions, but I'll do it anyway: Vernon Gholston not only records his first career sack this season in a Bears uniform, he becomes a key contributor on defense and possibly starts alongside Julius Peppers.

What does every player labeled an "NFL bust" want? A fresh start. A chance to prove himself. And now Gholston has one with the Chicago Bears.    

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