Need No. 5--Cornerback
Players on roster
CB Charles Tillman (signed through 2013)
CB Nathan Vasher (2012)
CB Corey Graham (2010)
CB Trumaine McBride (2010)
CB Marcus Hamilton (2009)
CB Rudy Burgess (2010)
CB Danieal Manning (2009)
CB Zack Bowman (2011)
If things go the way the Bears are hoping with new secondary coach Jon Hoke, this will be a position of strength with the players already on the depth chart. Tillman is still recovering from shoulder surgery in January and his health must be watched. The belief is he will be fine. He's always been such a rugged addition to the run defense that you wonder if his second shoulder surgery as a pro will affect the way he plays. Vasher went into Lovie Smith's doghouse last season but he was running with the starters in minicamp. That was because Tillman and McBride were both out rehabilitating injuries. Vasher is intent on fighting his way back into a starting role and he looked to be in good position. It looks like he'll get more of an opportunity than last year's cast off in the secondary, Ricky Manning Jr., and Vasher has earned that right.
Graham will be battling him for the starting job on the right side and while he impressed at times in 2008, he must take another step. We list Manning with this bunch because he is the nickel cornerback even though the club lists him as a free safety on the roster. We also list Bowman, who has been switched (maybe not permanently) to free safety. But other than Tillman, Graham and Manning, nothing here is a lock for 2009. No defense will turn away a cornerback that can play and the Bears lean heavily on this position in special teams. Ultimately, Tillman might wind up moving inside to free safety but that is not going to happen this season and until there is a bona fide top corner to take his place, that's not a move that will be made. The Bears have other needs but this is always a position where depth is important. Just consider how Tillman and Vasher dealt with injuries last season. McBride and Hamilton figure to be in position to vie for backup jobs and roles on special teams. Burgess is a project who the club initially tried at wide receiver when he was signed last fall.
Who the Bears have been looking at
The Bears brought in West Virginia's Ellis Lankster for a pre-draft visit after college scouting director Greg Gabriel attended the Mountaineers' pro day. They also put Troy's Sherrod Martin through a private workout. However, it's believed they are looking at him as a free safety. Hoke went to Los Angeles to attend Hawaii's pro day with a plan to look at Ryan Mouton.
Coming Wednesday: Defensive end.