Chicago Sun-Times

Walker lands in Carolina day after Bears replace him

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Darwin Walker has a new home.

The ex-Bears defensive tackle signed a one-year contract with the Carolina Panthers today to help shore up a need that became glaring after Kris Jenkins was traded to the Jets and the club passed over the position in the draft.

Walker was cut loose in February following an injury-riddled season as the Bears opted not to pay him a $5.2 million roster bonus. At 30, he can still be effective but he has to stay on the field.

He was brought in to fill the void created when the club had to cut fellow tackle Tank Johnson last summer. Johnson got pulled over and came within 0.008 of a DUI in Arizona within 36 hours of the club’s offseason program ending. That ended his run with the team and put the Bears in a scramble for help in the middle of the defense.

Walker had refused to report to Buffalo, where he had been traded by Philadelphia, unless he got a new contract. The Bills swapped him to the Bears for a fifth-round pick. They gave him a new deal, but it was almost completely contingent on him turning into a player for the Bears. Walker made only $1.9 million last season as the Bears saved having to make a major investment knowing he might not be the solution.

Now, third-round pick Marcus Harrison is on board and he might be the answer for Tank.

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I feel Harrison will be the answer along with Dvoracek, I feel really good barring injuries.
We shoulda kept Tank and we wouldn't have these replacements. He is fine in Cowboy land...but I do like the replacements now - so far....

FYI, Harrison was a third rounder (90 overall).

Good move by the Panthers, as having Peppers alongside him will make it easier on both of them. The Bears needed to get healthier on the line, and Walker was not the guy to play next to Tommie, but could be his backup in the rotation. They needed a nose tackle type player for the defense which would allow for Tommie to continue to be disruptive, while the other DT holds the point of attack and defends the run. Toeaina, Dvoracek, and Harrison are all capable of doing this, and Harrison can play both spots.

Hopefully, Walker will get some perspective and realize that his attitude got him thrown out of 2 cities (Philly and Buffalo) and was jettisoned for lack of production in Chicago, all in 24 months. While he was a beast in Philly, he hasn't played like it since. A fresh start in Carolina, where John Fox will be on him all the time might be just what he needs.

Marcus Harrison was a nice 3rd round pick by the Bears. Harrison was originally slated to be a 1st to 2nd round pick but slid because of off the field concerns. I trust that Angelo and the Bears did an pre-draft backround check as part of his pre-draft evaluation. Im sure Angelo did, the Bears cannot afford another off the field problem child like they had in Tank. But all we as fans can do is hope. If Harrison is legit and ready to be a professional the Bears will have the nose tackle they have been lacking since Tank. Marcus Harrison will add nice size at 6-3 310lbs and the power to help with the run defense, I was hopeing the Bears would add a DT with some size and power in the draft. If Dusty Dvoracek can stay healthy along with the added power and size from the rookie Harrison the play from the linebackers will be helped also. A big strong nose tackle is what was missing last season, now the Bears should have two in Dvoracek and Harrison. If both these players can stay healthy the Bears defense will be back in 2008 and the play from the intire defense should improve GO BEARS!!

What do Welker, Dusty and Harrison have in common. They were all hurt last year. People keep talking about his character, that he dropped because of that. He droped because he has had back to back surgeries on his knees, he has been injury riddled his entire career. Two concussions, sholder surgery, 3 total knee surgeries. He has no strength in his legs, and he has never been able to push a line when he is healthy. Thats why he fell. This is an ultra week DT class after Dorsey and Ellis the rest was garbage, including Harrison. He is considered a really high risk pick and probably would have gone undrafted, but the Bears jumped on him. One of his knees still needs work. McFadden's character is a major question mark he went 4th overall. They don't care about a guys character. The guy dropped because of injuries. I swear it's like Bears fans are in denial. He never been hurt none of are DT's has ever been hurt. We have the most injury riddled DT's in the NFL. All of them Harris, Harrison, Dusty, none of them can stay healty. Heck Dusty has only played half a game and Harrison has played in zero games and everyone is like I think we got the best DT's in the NFL if they can stay healthy and if they actually have talent. What you think the Raiders who are desperate for a DT would have looked at this guy, they love guys with character concerns and even they passed on him. Cause he is so good, so much talent, not health risk at all. What was the problem with the defense last year? Oh they couldn't stay healthy. But this guy will help that.

You are in rare form since the draft started. This entire draft was riddled with risky draft picks. There are no sure things, and most of the "can't miss" prospects are sure fire misses in my opinion. But a lack of injury concern is no guarantee of future health. Mike Brown was never hurt in college, Urlacher was healthy as a moose, Benson was a workhorse who never missed any time, and Grossman was invincible in Steve Spurrier's offense. You can never accurately predict whether or not they will get hurt in the pros, or that they will continue to be injured as they play in the NFL.

2 years ago, most of the defense was healthy, but key losses (Mike Brown and Dvoracek) left us vulnerable to the deep pass and running game. last year, we lost half of our DTs, and Mike Brown again, and Vasher missed most of the year. Other guys missed games here and there, and next thing you know, we were 29th in the league in defense. If you look at the draft picks we took, Williams and Bennett were relatively injury free, and I am not sure about the tandem from Michigan State. Kellen Davis and Baldwin seem pretty healthy.

What bothers me about this class is not that we took injury risk players, it's that we took pretty big leaps of faith at inopportune times in the draft. Jerry had his plan, and his targets, but we were not positioned to take those guys at the times he took them:

Chris Williams--talented pass protector, but not strong enough to be a drive blocker yet. Can get stronger, but you can't teach his agility for a big man. Could have taken Albert, Cherilus, or Mendenhall, although 8 other teams passed on him before Pittsburgh pulled him off the board.

Matt Forte--so we take a running back from a small school with Henne and Brohm still on the board, as well as Ray Rice, Jamaal Charles, and John Greco, one of the highest rated guards on the board.

Earl Bennett--like the player, like the pick, but Zuttah was still on the board.

Harrison--we needed another DT, but Phillip Wheeler, Marcus DeCoud, and Kevin O'COnnell went in the next 9 picks. DeCoud would have been a better pick at safety than Steltz.

Steltz--before we picked him, we traded out of our spot, where the Fins took Shawn Murphy, who is another highly touted guard, and the son of Dale Murphy

After that, it was a crapshoot, but we took player after player who may or may not fit what we want to do. Players we could have taken at those spots include:

142: Jason Shirley, DT Fresno State; DeMario Pressley, DT NC State; Breno Giacomini, OT Louisville

158: missed Schuening by 1 pick, but could have taken Josh Johnson, John Sullivan, C Notre Dame;

After that, I can't say much about the guys they took.

If we were scared off by injuries, we would have drafted 11 kickers and punters. Every other player plays hurt at one point or another, and athroscopic surgery is becoming as commonplace as ice packs and whirpool baths.

If our current trend stays intact, we will have 2-3 of these guys on IR before the season starts. After that, we just have to trust our scheme, and keep plugging in the next guy in line when one goes down.

I think in some cases, there is denial, but for the most part, it boils down to potential, which is what the draft is all about. As much as we all like to think we can do it better than the guys running NFL front offices, there is a reason they have those jobs (except Matt Millen). Time and again, they prove us wrong. They miss on picks about 35% of the time across all positions, but that means they are right 65% of the time, which is pretty solid. Do I agree with the picks he made? In most cases, not at all, but I also disagreed with Trumaine McBride, Kevin Payne, Aaron Brant, Devin Hester, Dan Bazuin, Mike Okwo, Garrett Wolfe, JD Runnels, Tyler Reed, Rod Wilson, and Airese Currie in the last 3 drafts. But McBride, Payne, and Hester have all looked better than I thought in their time so far. Okwo, Wolfe, and Bazuin are still works in progress.

Bottom line is that we should reserve final judgment until they start lining up and smacking into each other. If they continue to drop like flies, then Jerry deserves a lot of flack. If they pan out, then he deserves some credit.

I'm assuming Brad Biggs pays attention to the comments made on the blog.

Considering this, Brad has more of an in than any of us - So Brad, what veteran free agents are the Bears concentrating on after the draft? Surely a couple!

I agree with you that we coulda done this or that, traded up for RM, got more Offensive Linemen earlier but after thinking it over I believe JA did alot better than what I was very much afraid he would do. Considering JA can't draft Offense he did alright.
We will see but I am happy with JA.
I'm like whew, he didn't screw up as bad as I thought he might, so thats good lol -

Joe I actually wrote something similar to what you just put up about what players were available and the Bears going high risk when they shouldn't.

I also gave guys fair grades when I graded them.

Draft Grade

Williams: B(3.0) Ogden or Thomas would be an A, this kid will be a solid player but needs work, will need time to develop before he starts full time. Kind of like Olin did his first year when he only played in 8 games part time. Probably won't start day one. But Ayear from now should be a very good LT if he works hard.
Frote: C+(2.5) decent player but not special, better than Benson, has some injury history, fumbles a little to much. But Benson is probably gone so that is good. Could have been gotten later a lot of good player still on the board, proabably a reach.
Bennett: B(3.0) Solid pick not a all pro but solid, could be best player taken by the Bears. Should be a starter. But not a real need, Bears still need a Number one guy to stretch the field. Please spare me any remarks on Bradley who didn't get on the field last year and Hester and his go rout.
Harrison: F(0.0) Two bad knees and back to back surgeries, major character issues. The type of player Goodell hates. If he is convicted as a felon which he probably will be, he will be suspended. Likes Ecstacy and Weed and just got rewarded for breaking the Law by being drafted and will get a nice paycheck so he can by more drugs than ever before. His character does not bother me as much as his body does, he has weak legs and will not push the pile, other than his knees he has also had shoulder and head injuries. We just got rid of Welker because of injuries and replace him with this guy. There where better players on the board at bigger needs.
Steltz: C+(2.5) a decent player, but I believe Angelo said this was the worst saftie class he can remember so how good can he be all that. Special team player, slow for a saftie not a natural athlete, should be better than AA which isn't saying much, is not good in coverage, which is not good for a cover 2 saftie. Has a bad shoulder that is not healing properly.
Bowman: F(0.0) Not a need, major injury isseues, fast but not a good football player or CB, does not play the run or like to tackle. Wasted pick. He is fast but that is it. There where players on the board at need positions that we missed to take a risk on this guy.
Davis: C(2.0) Strangest pick they made, physically gifted but not a good TE, solid special team player in college, better on defense then offense, character issues, low motor and his own coach said he doesn't work hard. Could be special with a lot of hard work. Is a project and again not a major need like RG or RT.
Baldwin: F(0.0) Wasted pick not a need in any way shape or form for the Bears, my guess is he is just another special team player for the bears, if he even makes the team. Not a bad player but he gets and F for not being a need, will not impact the team.
Adams: D(1.0) Practice squad player needed to take a guard earlier than round 7. Injury history
LaRocque: D(1.0) Won't make the team
Barton: D(1.0) Cannon fodder for the practice squad
Monk: C(2.0) Shoulder and knee injuries are a regular thing with this kid, some nice tools but can't stay healthy and is not a great football player.

Grade D+(1.7), Ignored the QB position and drafted a lot of players with major injury concerns, did not really address the Guard position another major need. There first 3 picks were impressive but then it fell apart for Angelo. To many character issues and injuries in this group will thin out the team. Needed more help on offensive line and didn't get it. The Bears biggest need this draft where in order: LT, RB, QB, RT, WR, RG, S, NT, BTE, they did not get a QB, RG, RT, BTE or a NT. Thats a lot of holes.

Harrison is a Harris back up nothing more.

Williams is a solid pick but is still a rookie with Garza who is bad, Metcalf who is real bad and Beekman as your guard rotation I don't think Williams will have the impact people think. He will not have any help from the guards thats for sure. Instead the rookie will have to help them. That is usually not a good thing.

Forte will struggle to run between the tackle as this has never been Olin's strong suit and the guards just are not very good. In fact there bad. Running behind Tait I leave as a ?. He is a very good RT but is past his prime and has a history of bad ankles and ankle injuries at both RT and LT. He may struggle this year and has no real back up.

With Benson all but gone I say the Bears go 6-10. Which is two games better than the 4-12 I gave them earlier.

I don't disagree with your assessment of the class at all Creighton, just saying we can't bank on health history as an indicator of future health or injury. I thought the character risks were more note-worthy than the injury risks, but that's neither here nor there. I would perhaps rate Adams as a C pick because of getting a SEC starter in the 7th round, but can't really argue any of the other grades.

Sadly, many of these guys will be pressed into action before they are ready, and if our track record holds up, Hanie/Hill will have to play before the season is done. Williams will need TE help against Freeney (but then again, who doesn't?), but I think he can hold up in pass protection for the most part. We need to also run screens and draws to slow down the pass rush. He can get stronger, so while 2008 will be an up and down season for him, long term he is going to be solid for us. But I am right there with you on the rest of the picks. This was a terrible draft to have extra picks in, but we also missed the chance to significantly upgrade our OL.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 28, 2008 2:15 PM.

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