Don't overlook the possibility that the Bears will turn their attention to a linebacker at some point in the first five rounds of the draft. It might not be the most pressing need, but general manager Jerry Angelo was very clear Tuesday in discussing the need to make sure the team gets appropriate value at each pick. Angelo has already talked about the position being one of the real strengths of this draft and not just at the top of the board.
That brings us to a college safety most teams are looking to convert into a linebacker--TCU's Stephen Hodge. He's got a Bears' connection. We've known Hodge was a distant relative of coach Lovie Smith. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has cleared up that relationship for us. Smith's sister is also Hodge's mother's stepsister.
The Bears have been looking at Hodge as a possible weak-side linebacker and immediate contributor on special teams. He's 6-foot, 234 pounds, and has been timed in the 40-yard dash at 4.50 seconds. The Bears showed particular interest in Hodge at the Texas vs. The Nation game that was scouted by Angelo.
He might be a little undersized to play on the strong side but one of the things intriguing about him is his ability to blitz. Hodge led defensive backs in the entire nation with eight sacks as a junior in 2007. He added three last season, and impressed most in TCU's victory over Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl with 11 tackles, one interception and one sack.
Hodge is known to have made official visits to Dallas and New Orleans. Keep him in mind.