Chicago Sun-Times

Four Down Territory, March 24: Could D-tackle depth come early in draft?

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Let's get right to the mailbag.

Q: Lovie Smith is clearly a big proponent of a strong rotation on the defensive line. With Dusty Dvoracek winding up on injured reserve again last season (he's the Mike Brown of defensive tackles) and the Bears thin on rotation depth at tackle (Tommie Harris and Marcus Harrison are both three techniques and Anthony Adams is undersized at nose tackle), could Jerry Angelo surprise everyone and and take a tackle early in the draft? Both Peria Jerry and Ziggy Hood fit the scheme. Hard to justify with so many other needs but I wouldn't be surprised. 
Kirk W., Chicago 

A: I think the problem here is that Jerry and Hood could both be first-round picks. Jerry could be long gone before the Bears select at No. 18. There is a difference between looking for a tackle early in the draft and going for one with your first pick in the draft. I happen to think the line got better when Adams was used more last season, and certainly some line depth was compromised with Israel Idonije moving back outside to end. He's versatile enough to remain a swing player.

If the Bears count on anything from Dvoracek, that's a mistake. Anything they get from him is a bonus. His track record makes it impossible to believe he will deliver 16 games. I'd suspect a bargain signing at some point--remember Adams was a late addition in free agency--or a draft pick to help fill out the depth. But it's not going to be about the No. 4 tackle this year. It's going to be about Harris stepping up and proving he can be a dominating force. Keep the focus where it should be.

Q: I think filling the starting free safety position is more important than the nickel back. If that's so, explain to me why Danieal Manning, a second-round pick, a guy with great quickness and burst, can't work there. Isn't that the position he was drafted for? I've never heard a good reason. I suspect he doesn't have the smarts, but if that's true then that's pretty sad. I just don't get it. Maybe you do?

Bob K., Chicago

A: I would agree with you that finding a starting free safety is more important than getting a nickel back. I don't know if you would find anyone to argue with you on that one. Manning has the best athletic traits to fill the role, no question. Not only is he the best athlete in the secondary, he might just be the most athletic player on the roster. But let's recall that Manning has been in that role before, the coaching staff has had plenty of time to evaluate him as a safety, and it didn't work out. Now, moving him around in the first place is the best reason I can point to for some of his struggles. He went to cornerback, back to safety, to nickel back. He was a man without a home. When Manning finally came to terms with his role as the nickel back midway through last season, he really started to flourish. Yes, you would like to think you could get more from the top pick of your 2006 draft class, from a guy who is entering the final year of his contract, but at this point if he's playing well in the nickel it's probably best to leave well enough alone. I thought Manning was a liability vs. the run at times as a safety. I didn't think he was very skilled as an open-field tackler. Certainly, had he been left at safety he probably would have improved. He didn't have the best instincts either. But he's proven to be an adept nickel corner. Part of coaching is putting your players in the best place to succeed. Maybe this is it for him. Plus, if he was a starting safety I don't believe you would see him returning kickoffs. So, it's not what the Bears should have gotten out of their top pick from a draft but he should be productive as a role player this season.

Q: It is not a typical Jerry Angelo move and Denver has to ultimately be willing to move Jay Cutler, and the Bears may have gotten themselves too desperate at wide receiver and offensive tackle to give up premium draft choices. All that being said, does the compensatory third round pick (while untradeable) make the Bears more willing to give up their own third rounder in a potential Cutler deal? It seems you are not sure Cutler qualifies as a franchise quarterback, but I would argue he is in the top 10 at the position already with a chance in the coming years to be in the top five. Maybe he gets something going with his old college teammate at wide receiver in Earl Bennett and makes Chicago a more desirable destination for veteran receivers.

Joe B., Oxford, Conn.

A: If the Bears view Cutler as a fix to their quarterback situation for the next decade, Joe, then a third-round pick will not get in the way of their pursuit of him. If, and that's the big word here because we've got no idea how general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith view Cutler, the Bears believe Cutler is the real deal, I can't imagine Angelo having any trepidation dealing any draft picks, even a precious third rounder. When you consider his stumbling inability to address the position, he'd have to be willing to mortgage the future for Cutler. What's that mean? Well, Jeff George went from Indianapolis to Atlanta for two first-round picks and a third-round pick.

Got a call out of the blue late this morning from a coach in the league, who when he wasn't marveling in the insanity of the Cutler-Denver situation, sized up the quarterback.

"First of all, he's got a hell of an arm,'' the coach said. "He's athletic and he can move around, he's young and he'll take chances. For the most part, they're pretty calculated chances though, and he's competitive as heck. I just think he is a heck of a player. Everything Denver is doing right now seems to me that they're trying to set up a trade.

"The coach comes out Monday and says, `He's our guy, he's our guy, he's our guy.' You know what that tells me? You have to give us a little more or we won't let him go. And if they can't get a deal done, they can say, `See, we told you he was our guy from the beginning.' Maybe that's just me being pessimistic, but I think they're setting up a trade.''

If the Bears want in on that trade--if it happens--the price will not be cheap. A third rounder won't be a deal breaker when this one goes down. Who wouldn't throw in Mike Okwo to close a deal for a quarterback? Heck, who wouldn't add in Bennett to that deal?

Q: What are the odds of the Bears acquiring Mark Tauscher?

Ish, Parts Unknown

A: Tauscher had reconstructive ACL surgery on Jan. 15 and reports out of Green Bay last month were that he is ahead of schedule. While I'm not one to doubt Tauscher, I've said it before and I will say it again, when is the last time you heard a player announce they are behind schedule? Even on schedule for a return? I don't think you can rule out a return to the Packers, but by this point wouldn't they have signed him if they wanted him back? He's one of a myriad of veteran players with injury histories that are on the street at the position. Tauscher just happens to have a more recent injury than most. I'm not sure he's on the radar, at least at this point.

Thank you for all of the participation and questions. As always, thanks for reading. Our next Q&A will be Wednesday. Get your questions in.

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You say the D-Line is going to be about Harris stepping up and proving he can be a dominating force. Well ol' Tommie boy sat out much of the last day of mini-camp and Lovie said, "two days in row is quite a bit when a guy is not in tip-top shape."

What kind of work ethic does Harris have that he is sitting out cupcake practices like this? This is supposed to be a defense that is getting better with a new attitude. Also, is there any indication that he has been working with Warren Sapp?

i prey that rod will be the savior for the d line he has made a name for him self and has a great reputation..the guys we have at de have the skill i hope he can get the production out of sure is hard to be a die hard bears fan in colt ville

Adam's right, Harris is a joke, he's out of shape and can't do 3 days in a row of helmets and shorts. nice job by lovie to change the attitude on this team. thank god we signed the best free agent out there, rod should be worth at least 2 or 3 wins this year. I mean he got the lions... oh wait he got them 0 wins last year. I cant wait until we miss the playoffs again this year and then hopefully at the very least Lovie is fired finely. If lovie and angelo dont think Cutler is and always will be better than Orton, that proves how stupid they are. he is a top 10 with more potential than Orton has beard. I would trade our entire draft for Cutler, and why you ask because Angelo has proven or the last 6 years he does nothing with the picks. i dont think i have to bore you with the lists of first round busts he has drafted or the reaches in the 2nd and 3rd rounds the last few years. they want to change the culture and attitude of this franchise, then it starts with them. Stop being conservative, stop doing the same things you have done for the last five years together. Get a franchise QB in Chicago like Culter and then build from there.

Just draft for speed and attitude!! Fast and mean with a great work ethic. Do that and we'll be fine.

Yes, Steve it really is tuff being in Indy and a Bears fan as the Super Bowl was no fun at all, to say the least! I like the Colts and Manning deserved a SB win but I am not sure the Bears should have been his playground, and in my opinion we had that game - if we made half time adjustments we would have won. Biggest surprise was waiting for the Bears to come out of half time and change their D scheme and O scheme just a little, and win the game, then....nothing!! I could not believe my eyes when the Bears started the entire second half just like the first half, cmon Lovie! They knew the first half scheme already. sorry fans, just a little venting STILL!!

Anyway, it is a big question to me what the Bears will do with the DT rotation, they have enough if they are healthy, but with what Lovie said about Harris you never know wht the Tommy Brown will do.

Adams,Harrison,Harris,Dvorcek (any I am forgetting?)

and you know what? I might just take those 2 firsts AND a player for Cutler as Jerry has messed up enough firsts, that won't hurt a bit and we have a franchise QB for years finally!! We can get Oline in Free Agency and we still have the 2-5 picks Jerry is better with anyway. (6-7 are his busts as well)

Brad, I agree with what your saying about Tommie Harris having to step up, but that is taking a heck of a chance if his knee is getting worse. I like Tommie Harris, the guy showed a lot of heart coming out and playing hurt last season, and did improve as the season went on. My problem, as a fan from the outside lookig in is, why was he sidelined for walk throughs during mini camp? That doesn't look good. Now maybe it isn't a big deal, but if it is, the Bears have got to go Peria Jerry the DT from Mississippi at #18 in the first. The Scheme Chicago runs relies heavily on the under tackle [Tommie Harris], if he can't go, either can the Bears defense, and with a team like Chicago that relies so heavily on their defense, thats not good. If Harris isn't going to be as effective as he once was, maybe Jerry isn't a bad option at #18 after all. A lot of experts have Jerry going in the lower first round to the Colts, the Bears could land him at #18.

If, and a big IF, Tommie Harris knee is bad, I think the Bears will draft Jerry. If not, the Bears will probably go with Eben Britton the tackle out of Arizona in the first, and use their second rounder on Ohio st receiver Brian Robiskie, who I think is the most NFL ready of this years receiver crop. I liked Missouri defensive tackle Ziggy Hood in the second, but he is moving up draft boards and probably won't be there for Chicago in the second. On draft day we'll find out how serious of a knee problem Tommie Harris has. Hopefully its alright and Chicago can land a tackle like Britton in the first and a receiver like Robiskie in the second, that would be a heck of a first day GO BEARS!!

Right on, Troy! I could not have said it better!!

The price for Cutler will not just be picks it will be a QB as well. Unless your Detroit who has the pick of the litter and can get Stafford who did very well at his Pro Day your just blowing smoke as the Bears. The Jets have already said they want him and have a couple of young QB's and a pick ahead of the Bears.

It will be 2 first rounders and a player and maybe even a third. At the very least. I don't think there is a chance he will be a bear. Angelo can't pull the trigger on a deal like that. That one would come from above him. There are 4 teams known to have a lot of intrest the Jets, Tampa, Vikings, Lions. I agree with you Brad, Cutler is on the table and the Broncos want the farm for him.

By the way only Manning and Brees have passed for more yards than Cutler the last 2 years.

If a miracle occures and the Bears do trade for Cutler, they have to go get a FA OT. Probably Shaffer, they would also need to hit on there second round pick and find a starting Split End, Nicks or Robiskie. Cutler would make everyone on the offense a lot better. I wish Phillips would look at it in terms of Jersey Sales. A 25 year old franchise QB comes to Chicago. Your talking huge sales just monsterous, probably be the number 1 Jersey in the NFL, plus the NFL would love it to happen, watch those tv ratings go up, up, up and Cutler would get the benifit of playing to a major market and his endorsments would go through the roof. Your talking win, win, win and yet it won't happen because the Bears believe they are the best drafting team in NFL history and that you don't need a QB to win games. All they want is there game manager, who is cheap, then they can throw all there money at there bottom of the barrel defense to try and make it decent. Why tieup money in a QB when you can give to guys like Harris or Vasher or Archuleta or Goon or Dusty or Hunter or Johnson or any number of clowns. Why get a legit reciever when you can get Lloyd and Booker, why not give Omiyale 14 million, he has played 1 whole game in 4 years and they want at LG were he has never played, Bullocks is a need, so is Earl they will be great.

Yes the Bears really know how to spend money

Brad, is the money they're throwing Shaffer starting money or back up money (feels like back up)? Is the plan now to move forward in the draft without placing a high (1-3rd round) pick on a tackle and address other needs instead or should I not try reading anything into this signing? Your thoughts?

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on March 24, 2009 10:18 PM.

Stacking up some wide receiver options in Round 2 was the previous entry in this blog.

Bears add veteran offensive tackle Shaffer is the next entry in this blog.

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