Filling some holes on defense
CHICAGO -- Nothing encapsulates the phrase "inexact science" quite like the NFL draft. Whether you're in the business of trying to predict a draft, or in the business of actually doing the drafting, the whole process (after maybe the first 10-15 picks) requires a substantial leap of faith. With that said, I spent most of the week trying to familiarize myself with players who might appeal to the Bears based on their projected draft status, their position in relation to roster needs and the organization's recent draft history.
It's tough to forecast who is still going to be on the board after two rounds, but most of the players listed below have been given below a second-round grade by most major publications/analysts.
Defensive tackle: The Bears' defensive system calls for lighter and quicker players to anchor the interior of the defensive line, even at nose tackle, where Marcus Harrison's weight issue caused problems in 2009. Although Henry Melton may be slated for a move inside, the Bears always place a premium on drafting defensive linemen, and with Tommie Harris' history, you can never have too many quality defensive tackles.
Free safety: The Bears have drafted a safety in every draft since 2005 (Chris Harris, Danieal Manning, Kevin Payne, Craig Steltz and Al Afalava), but still lack a consistent playmaker at the position. Since free agency offers little help in this area -- outside of Darren Sharper and Ryan Clark -- chances are high the Bears use one of their first picks on a safety.
Strong safety:Lovie Smith has always viewed the safety positions as interchangeable, but moving guys back and forth hasn't always worked; see Kevin Payne. The Bears need a big, physical hitter in the box, but someone who can also run. It's not easy to find these guys in the third- or fourth-round, but the Bears have always felt they can find a safety anywhere. Unfortunately, their track record the past few years seems to indicate otherwise.
Cornerback:The Bears need size at cornerback despite taking D.J. Moore in 2009, and they need to address the depth at this position. Once again, I think Corey Graham can play, but the Bears are down on his speed. After Graham, they have Moore and Nathan Vasher, so this is a critical area for the Bears this offseason.
On Friday, we look at offensive tackle, guard, wide receiver and defensive end.