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.