Chicago Sun-Times

Bears draft preview: Need No. 6 Defensive tackle

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Need No. 6--Defensive tackle

Players on roster

DT Tommie Harris (signed through 2012)
NT Anthony Adams (2010)
DT Marcus Harrison (2011)
NT Dusty Dvoracek (2009)
DT Matt Toeaina (2009)
DE/DT Israel Idonije (2009)


If Jerry Angelo and Lovie Smith have a hobby, it's collecting defensive linemen and defensive backs. Harris is the key here and is as important to the success of the defense as a whole as Smith is as the new play caller. There was a buzz about Harris not finishing the minicamp last month but what's important--virtually meaningless drills in mid-March or a game in September? When Dan Hampton was still a dominating force in the middle of the Bears' defense, he'd miss practice time with knee issues. The Bears knew exactly where Harris was from a health standpoint when they signed him to a $40 million, four-year extension last summer, a deal that for practical purposes will total $34 million over four years.

There has not been a knee surprise since. What the club is more concerned about with Harris--more than his left knee--is what is going on in his head. Harris was suspended for one game last season for conduct detrimental to the team. Smith said at the combine in February that when the staff finished reviewing the season, Harris had performed better than he had been given credit for in an up-and-down season. We're not certain how his play really changed seven weeks after the season ended, but that has to be a good thing, right? Harris needs to be right because he's the key to the front seven and he plays the position--under tackle--that is so difficult to fill. He'd look a lot better, of course, if the team started generating any kind of consistent pass rush from the ends. The Bears are not going to find another Harris in this draft. There are some good supporting parts around him. Harrison was impressive at times during his rookie season and needs to take the next step. Adams really stepped forward in the final third of the season after Smith had taken control of the defense from Bob Babich. Adams should be the starter when the season begins in front of Dvoracek, who wears down as the season progresses and has not been able to stay healthy. Dvoracek is entering the final year of his contract and counting on him is too risky considering he's finished on injured reserve for three straight seasons. He's a high-motor performer but gets pushed around too much. Toeaina barely saw any action and Idonije has been moved back to end, the Danieal Manning of the line as the coaches cannot decided where to put him. He's still a possibility to move down inside in a pinch. But the club needs to add some depth here with an eye toward the future. If Angelo has someone on his board with a good grade, grabbing a tackle in the middle rounds would not be a surprise.

Who the Bears have been looking at

New line coach Rod Marinelli put Northwestern's John Gill through a private workout and that is the only tackle we have been able to link the Bears to at this point. Gill is an athletic performer. He was considered a better prospect before his senior season but still should get selected at some point. Missouri's Zygi Hood would be a perfect fit for the scheme and Smith has seen him play in person but he should be off the board before the team selects in the second round.

Coming Tuesday: Cornerback.

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Hopefully Lovie Smith will see the need for a real run stuffing DT. Without a push up the middle the QB never gets to the depth needed for the DE's makes the opposing OT's job easier. Having Urlacher so close to scrimmage and the corners playing of made the slant a automatic with two and three step drops thats why no rush and leaving the middle wide open left the defense very vulernable Sammie Lee Hill from Hampton, and Baker from Stillman are prototype run stuffers and pocket collapsers needing a double team freeing up Harris and Urlacher, also helping the ends by forcing depth by the QB. This lightweight defense gets pushed around too much thats why the ranking has consistantly been falling, this needs to be addressed.

I would love for Missouri's Ziggy Hood to slip to the Bears in the second, but like Brad was saying, its probably not going to happen. But there's always an outside chance. Hood caught a lot of peoples eye's at the senior bowl when he had 5 tackles and 1 sack. Thats around the time his stock really started to rise. Scouts liked his ability to split the double team and his explosiveness out of his stance, again, I hope he falls.

Tommie Harris knee does worry me, hopefully he'll be alright, his play did improve as the season went on.

Chicago also has Marcus Harrison, who I think should be a pleasant surprise in his second season. With a healthy Tommis Harris, Marcus Harrison getting better with experience, and Anthony Adams who looked good when he had a chance to play, Chicago should be alright. I'd still like to see them add some more youth to the front four, or even seven for that matter.

I do look for the Bears to take a DT at some point during the draft, maybe Northwesterns John Gill who has nice size at 6-3 300lbs and has the ability to penetrate, he'd be a nice fit. Another one to keep an eye on is Georgia Tech's Vance Walker, he's a one gap tackle with the arm length and agility to corral and bring down a ball carrier. Chicago could get Walker at some point during the second day like Gill, it should be interesting, can't wait till saturday GO BEARS!!

If Ziggy Hood were to fall to 49 by some miracle, I think you would have to be nuts to pass on him, regardless of wide receiver needs. Same goes for Michael Johnson if he drops. We need to address our lack of depth and health at the position at some point, but there likely will not be any miracles, so we are looking at later round picks to help us out. Dusty will be on IR before the end of October, and is not stout enough to keep pressure off Tommie regardless, so there is no reason to keep him around. Harrison and Harris would be a nice, athletic combo, but we still need that rotational guy to make them work better.

When we went to the Super Bowl, we had a nice complementary rotation of Ian Scott, Alfonso Boone, Tommie Harris, and Tank Johnson. Scott was a solid run stuffer, as was Boone. Tommie and Tank were the pass rushers, and did very well at that. Idonije was a jack of all trades that played inside and outside.
Right now, we have Harris and Harrison, and nobody else. Adams played well enough, but he is not a natural nose for this system. he doesn't command the double team, which means they can pay more attention to Harris and the ends. Toeaina has the size to be the nose, but I don't know if he is strong enough to consistently require the double team. Dvoracek has his limitations which are well documented.

We need probably 2 guys on the defensive line between the draft and free agency post draft. We need an end, and a tackle. Harrison is the only one who can play both spots, and I would like a more natural 3 tech to be the backup to Harris.
Maybe that's why JA has spent so much free agency money on the OL this year. He can get DL help, safety, and WR out of this draft.

"Smith said at the combine in February that when the staff finished reviewing the season, Harris had performed better than he had been given credit for in an up-and-down season."

Oh thank you very much Press Secretary Lovie Smith. Why should I believe my own eyes when you can just tell me what to believe?

The only guy on the inside who I thought played with any consistency was Anthony Adams. Harrison looked alright, and hopefully he will progress in his second season.

We better draft a DT, 'cause I would put it in the top 3 as far as needs go.

All I know about Harris is this last year during preseason, I pointed out that Harris didn't look in shape. I said that all season long, you can see it, his gut is bigger and his muscle tone is softer. This is not the 80's, off season training is very important to players these days. I have heard Hampton state that time and again. Look at Urlacher Biggs you just wrote about how Urlacher has been working out all season long.

Urlacher and Harris both had a sub-par season last year. One is working out to make sure he is better, the other can't get through a mini camp. Having Lovie state well he's not in tip top shape, thats Lovie speak for he is fat. I also know he said he was going to work with Sapp this off season but Sapp has stated that Harris did not return his calls and now that is not going to happen. Sounds like he is being lazy to me. Is no longer going to work out with Sapp and can't make it through a mini camp. Yeah and Brad they used to give Hamp time off, just not when he was in his mid 20's.

DT and NT are top needs.

By the way Kevin, Tommie and Harrison were healthy lasy year. Why are you saying with Harris healthy this year? He was healthy last year and him and Harrison do not play at the same time.

Of the starting front 4 Harris will play the least amount of time. If Dusty had not gotten hurt Harris would have played the least amount of time last year. Cause he is so healthy. Bad contract and the Bears will try to justify it.

Mike Lovie would never mislead anyone. "Rex is our QB," "Kyle is our QB," "we like Kyle we are happy to have Kyle," "there is no problem at the QB position casue Kyle is are QB." Meet Jay Cutler. "We like Benson I asked him to gain all that weight." "We drafted Chris Williams to be our starting LT", "We didn't know his back hurt" "We knew his back was hurt at the combine" "We didn't mislead anyone we just lied"

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on April 20, 2009 6:51 AM.

Bears bring Jayhawks LB Mike Rivera in for close look was the previous entry in this blog.

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