Kylie Fitts, the Bears’ sixth-round draft pick out of Utah, has shown outstanding athleticism and agility as pass rusher -- a serious team need -- but he has struggled to stay healthy.
He could make an immediate impact as a situational pass rusher for the Bears because of his first-step explosion, and he could wind up being a steal, but only of he can stay healthy.
Fitts said he had hoped to be drafted anywhere from the third to the fifth round, but his extensive injury history caused him to plummet to the 181st overall spot.
“I was a little surprised to go that late, but I’m excited just to be a Bear,” he said. “All I wanted was an opportunity. I knew with my injury history, teams were going to be a little scared. But I know the Bears are a good team, and they’re going to get a great player out of me.”
The 6-foot-4, 263-pounder has been an effective edge rusher, but he played in just 25 games in four years. His best season was in 2015, when he had seven sacks and forced four fumbles, but he added just 4.5 sacks over the past two years.
A grade-one Lisfranc fracture (the least severe) in his right foot still required surgery, and it limited him to just two games in 2016. He was nicked up with a sprained ankle and a sprained AC joint in his shoulder in 2017 while playing in 10 games.
Fitts will have to convert to outside linebacker to fit in the Bears’ 3-4 scheme. He played at defensive end for Utah, although he did operate from a two-point stance at times. Since last season ended, Fitts said he has been focusing his training on the skills he will need as an outside linebacker in a 3-4, and he says the conversion should go smoothly.
“Since the season ended, I’ve been doing pretty much non-stop LB drills and becoming a lot more comfortable with that,” he said. “I feel like that’s a perfect position for me right now.”
Fitts had an impressive combine, running 4.69 in the 40 and bench-pressing 225 pounds 31 times. His 6.88 in the 3-cone was exceptional, and his 4.19 in the 20-yard shuttle and 11.82 in the 60-yard shuttle were well above average.
He has a notable array of tattoos, and there are some among them that hold special meaning.
“I have pretty much religious themes to all of them,” Fitts said. “On my forearms are probably my favorite ones for my guardian angels, my grandma and grandpa, who passed away. Those are my favorite tattoos because they meant so much to me, and they motivated me to keep pursuing football and kept pushing me. Through all of the adversity, they helped me through everything.
“And then I have a saying from my dad, ‘Enjoy the journey.’ That’s tatted on my biceps. Just enjoy the journey, no matter what ups and downs you go through in life. Just enjoy every aspect because it’s going to make you better, and take full advantage because life is short.”