The Bears selected West Virginia receiver Kevin White with the seventh overall pick in the draft Thursday night, bringing cheers from fans gathered for the event in downtown Chicago.
New general manager Ryan Pace opted to go with a play-making receiver to replace the traded Brandon Marshall rather than address a defense that has ranked among the worst in franchise history the past two years.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound White, a junior college transfer, made a big impact in two seasons at West Virginia. He had a particularly strong senior season, finishing third in the nation with 109 receptions and sixth in yards receiving with 1,447.
Chicago also has one pick in the second and third rounds Friday (Nos. 39 and 71) along with a fourth-rounder (106), a fifth-rounder (142) and sixth-rounder (183) on Saturday.
Chicago made sweeping changes after going 5-11 last season, hiring Pace and coach John Fox to replace the fired Phil Emery and Marc Trestman. The Bears also have new offensive and defensive coordinators in Adam Gase and Vic Fangio, and they're switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 defense.
Roster-wise, there was no shortage of holes on offense and defense.
The Bears came in needing a top receiver to team with Alshon Jeffery after trading the controversial Marshall to the New York Jets. They're hoping White will give them just that. He set a school record with seven straight 100-yard receiving games to start the season and established the West Virginia mark with 16 receptions against Texas on Nov. 8.
White joins a team facing plenty of big questions.
Quarterback Jay Cutler's future with the team beyond next season is in question. And the defense remains a big concern after getting shredded the past two years under former coordinator Mel Tucker.
The Monsters of the Midway gave up the two highest point totals in franchise history during that span. Last season, only one team (Oakland) allowed more points, and the Bears joined the 1923 Rochester Jeffersons as the only teams to give up 50 or more in back-to-back games.
Pace brought in free agents such as linebacker Pernell McPhee and safety Antrel Rolle. But there still is plenty of work to do.
After he was selected, White answered a series of questions from reporters:
On coming in replacing a guy like Brandon Marshall
"I'm very confident. Brandon Marshall has done so much. For me to step-in and try and take his place and produce on the field is pretty big time. I'm pretty excited. I plan to do big things. I'm going to work, earn my stripes and I just want to help the team win games."
On the areas he feels he needs to work on coming into the league
"Of course route running and technique. I think when I'm around NFL coaches and learn the system then I'll be fine."
On what clicked for him to have a successful last season
"I had a healthy quarterback, first of all. My head coach, coach (Dana) Holgorsen, wanted to put the ball in my hand and I think I did a great job with that. Off the field, I just worked extremely hard. Of course it wouldn't be possible without the man upstairs, so I'm definitely blessed."
On how West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen prepared him for the NFL
"He prepared me very well. He always talked about beating a coverage and just finding a zone, that there are soft spots in the zones. We worked all the time on deep balls and goal-line routes for jump balls. I think he prepared me very well, at least that's what I'm hoping for. He had guys like Dez Bryant, Michael Crabtree and whole bunch of other guys, the list goes on. They've done a pretty good job. I'm hoping I can do a pretty good job as well."
On his familiarity with the Chicago Bears offense and what they try to do
"I'm very familiar. I know they like throwing the balls, especially deep to the big guys. When I went there for my visit, it was awesome. They explained everything, explained the route concepts. It actually seemed pretty simple but I'm going to hit the playbook hard so I can help the team win some games."
On his thoughts about the city of Chicago
"It's great, I love it. I think it's second to none, a lot cleaner, a lot better than New York. Maybe I'm a little biased because I'm from New Jersey and went to New York all the time. I love it here. It's very clean, a lot of atmosphere. I love the city."
On if he considers himself a self-made man and if his work ethic will be one of his greatest strengths
"Yes, definitely. I've been through a lot. I've never had anything given to me, not even in high school or in junior college. I had to earn everything. I basically had to wait my turn. Every time I got an opportunity I made the most of it."
On where the Bears told him he would fit into the offense immediately when he came on his visit
"When I got there and we talked, they said they want me to come in right away and basically be alongside Alshon Jeffery. They feel that will create mismatches. I'm willing to learn and do anything I have to do to get better and help this organization win some games."
On what was the most difficult part of waiting his time at Lackawanna
"It wouldn't be as far as talent. It was always something on my mind. There were injuries in my shoulder done in training camp, so I missed like a week and a half so I couldn't compete. Then, the following year, I was supposed to play that fall, and I couldn't do the financial paperwork. I never got the opportunity or the chance. It always seemed like something always popped up and my final year I finally made something happen. I continued to work hard to be productive on the field."
On what he knows about Jay Cutler and what he's looking forward to playing with him
"I know he's a great competitor. I know he hates losing, just like myself. He's a great quarterback. He's been doing it for a long time. He'll give you a chance downfield."
On if there will be an adjustment lining up on the left side instead of the right
"With me being on the right side at West Virginia, I had to adapt to only being to the right side. I actually liked the left side. I was always moved around in high school and at junior college. I had to adapt to basically be on one side. Coming to the Bears and getting moved around to the left or the right, I'll be alright just because I've done it before. I'm excited and I'm ready to get going."
On when he felt his confidence elevated at West Virginia
"Right when I got there. Actually, I had a lot of confidence. I was planning on leaving early, even before I played a snap in a game, because I was doing so well. It was so easy during practice that I thought the games would be like that. I had a few injuries and went through three different quarterbacks so I knew I couldn't. I mean, determination gave me a lot of confidence. I was very determined to prove a lot of people wrong."
On if waiting two years to get on the field was a positive or a negative
"I look at it both ways. I think it slowed me down because I didn't compete for two years so the route running and the little details I missed out on. Then, you can look at it in a good way. I've matured and I knew how much I loved the game and I was willing work and do anything to play. That's when my mind flipped and I got very determined and I wanted to outwork everybody."
On when he knew he was a Chicago Bear and if he was surprised at all
"When my agent said the pick was on the Redskins and he said the Bears were planning on taking me so be ready. When my good friend Leonard Williams went to the Jets, the Bears called my agent and put me on the phone. I was very excited, very happy. This is where I wanted to land at. I'm excited to be a Bear."