Filling some holes on defense

February, 18, 2010
2/18/10
2:25
PM ET
[+] EnlargeTommie Harris
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhTommie Harris' injury history is one reason the Bears need to develop depth along the defensive line.

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.

  • Lamar Houston, Texas
  • Tyson Alualu, California
  • Mike Neal, Purdue
  • D'Anthony Smith, Louisiana Tech
  • Earl Mitchell, Arizona
  • Geno Atkins, Georgia
  • Arthur Jones, Syracuse
  • 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.

  • Major Wright, Florida
  • Kam Chancellor, Virginia Tech
  • Morgan Burnett, Georgia Tech
  • Terrell Skinner, Maryland
  • Kendrick Lewis, Mississippi
  • Robert Johnson, Utah
  • 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.

  • Darrell Stuckey, Kansas
  • Larry Asante, Nebraska
  • Harry Coleman, LSU
  • Reshad Jones, Georgia
  • 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.

  • Jerome Murphy, South Florida
  • Chris Cook, Virginia
  • Myron Lewis, Vanderbilt
  • Amari Spievey, Iowa
  • Brian Jackson, Oklahoma
  • Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, Indiana (PA)
  • On Friday, we look at offensive tackle, guard, wide receiver and defensive end.

    Jeff Dickerson | email

    Chicago Bears beat reporter
    Dickerson has been the Bears beat reporter for ESPN Chicago since 2004. He also hosts weeknight radio shows on ESPN 1000.

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