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Chicago Bears add to LB depth with 4th-rounder Iyiegbuniwe

Western Kentucky's leading tackler projects inside for Bears

The Bears’ first pick on Day Three, Western Kentucky LB Joel Iyiegbuniwe, projects to inside in the Bears’ 3-4 defense and is expected to provide immediate help on special teams. He also projects some day to the medical field, but that’s down the road.
The 6-foot-1, 229-pound junior led Western Kentucky with 116 tackles and 11.5 tackles for loss in 2017 and also forced three fumbles. His last name is pronounced: ee-yay-boo-nee-way, but thankfully goes by “Iggy,” and his first name is pronounced: JO-el, with the emphasis on the first syllable.
Iyiegbuniwe was first-team All-USA last year, and he ran a 4.60 40 at the combine with a 35-inch vertical. He has very good speed for the position but better quickness, and he gets high marks for his coverage ability. His initial role could be as a cover linebacker in sub packages.
The aspiring doctor left school with a year of eligibility remaining partly because he had already graduated in May. He was a biology (pre-med) major and hopes to become a pediatrician, but that will come after football.
“I’m putting that on hold and just trying to play as long as I can (with) the gift that God gave me,” he said. “Later in my future (I’ll) go back and try to do that.”
Iyiegbuniwe was born in Chicago and lived in Cook County and then Bolingbrook until he was 8, before moving to Bowling Green, Kentucky. He says he had no contact at all with the Bears in the predraft process and did not speak to anyone in the organization until he was drafted. He hasn’t as yet been told in what role the Bears envision him.
“I’ve played inside and outside,” he said. “I’ve done pretty well with both, so whatever it is they need me to play, I’ll play that.”
When other teams he did meet with before the draft asked his preference, Iyiegbuniwe said: “I told them I wanted to be an inside linebacker. That’s what I want to do. This past year at Western Kentucky, that’s what I played, and I had my best season. (But) whatever they need me to do.”

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