I talked to a veteran scout who specializes in evaluating offensive and defensive linemen for the two columns that appeared in Wednesday's and Thursday's editions breaking down the Bears' offensive and defensive personnel. These guys always talk only on the condition of anonymity because they don't want to have their names attached to critical comments about another team's players but their opinions are always insightful.
I also asked this particular scout to break down the top three free-agent defensive ends. Here's his take:
On Julius Peppers:
"Peppers is probably as good as anybody in the game but he doesn't play consistently hard. He can play like he's on fire and is a great, great athlete who has everything but he definitely needs a motivational coach or a family-type team environment where there are high standards because he plays at his own level. The consistency would be my concern for him. As far as his ability, it's unquestionable."
On Aaron Kampman:
"Kampman gives you every ounce of what he has got. He gives it to you on every play. As a 3-4 linebacker, his production has been affected. ... He has the ability to maintain lane integrity. As he gets off the football he can keep a solid base as he brings his rush toward the quarterback. He's not a fly-around guy who just outruns everybody. He takes the offensive lineman with him and gets very close to the quarterback and works off it from there. He's very productive at that. I like him as a football player --- especially in a 4-3 --- because he's a high-effort guy. Does he have Peppers' ability? No. But he's close to being as good of a player as Peppers because of his consistency."
On Kyle Vanden Bosch:
"I question his judgement. He treats his body like a weapon and is all over the place and because of that he is prone to injury. He's a great player but he's going to miss time because he's going to beat himself up some but he's an all-out, speed rusher who wants to beat you to the outside. He has enough of an arsenal that he can work either side of the blocker but it's his speed and backdoor ability to get to the quarterback that sets him apart. He's going to get hurt because of the way he plays and each successive year it's going to get more prevalent but I admire him as football player. He plays with all his heart."