Can Tank Tyler be a Contributor?

The Bears signed Tank Tyler in January to compete for one of the available defensive tackle roster spots. Can the former third-round pick revive his career in Chicago?

Coming into the 2007 NFL Draft, former North Carolina State defensive tackle Tank Tyler was considered a top-five player at his position. He showed immense strength at the Scouting Combine, benching 225-pounds 42 times. Most scouts felt he was a very good interior lineman who could play nose tackle at the next level.

He was criticized a bit for a lack of quickness, yet his ability to anchor at the point of attack made those arguments moot, as a NT isn't expected to garner 8-10 sacks per season. Yet the biggest knock on him was a perceived lack of effort or laziness.

Talented enough to be a second-round pick, the concerns about his level of complacency dropped Tyler into the third, where the Kansas City Chiefs took him with the 82nd overall pick. He played sparingly his rookie season but became the full-time starter in the Chiefs' 3-4 scheme in 2008. Yet he never showed the same outstanding strength on the field as he had in the weight room. His size (6-2, 306-pounds) made him a better fit in a 4-3 system as well. As such, Tyler was traded to the Carolina Panthers in October 2009 for a fifth-round pick.


DT Tank Tyler
Scott Boehm/Getty

The switch to the 4-3 did not go as smoothly as expected though. In the 2010 OTA program, Tyler was slotted as the starter, yet the Panthers cut him at the end of training camp. He was unable to sign on with another team until after the season, when the Chicago Bears penned him to a reserve/futures contract.

Tyler is not the under tackle who could replace the production of a player like Tommie Harris. He is more of a space eater who can take up bodies and fill holes in the run game. The Bears most likely picked him up in case they are unable to re-sign Anthony Adams, who is a free agent. Obviously, the hope is that coordinator Rod Marinelli and defensive line coach Mike Phair can squeeze out the effort and talent that seems to have disappeared in Tyler's game.

He'll be given an opportunity to make the roster come training camp. His value goes up if Adams signs with another team. Yet he is going to have to really show something this offseason if he's going to be a contributor. Now is most likely his last chance to be an NFL player. That may light a fire under him and the Bears could come away with a rejuvenated player that can perform as part of the team's DT rotation. Bu if Tyler's ghosts follow him, it will be a short stay in Chicago, where a very impatient Marinelli won't have time for his lack of effort, especially as he's already dealing with a similarly unmotivated defensive lineman in Marcus Harrison. Tyler could be the feel-good story of 2011 or he could be an afterthought as early as May.

Big WR would be just fine with Smith

At the recent NFL owner's meetings, coach Lovie Smith was asked about the Bears' needs at wide receiver. More specifically, he commented on whether or not a taller wide receiver is a priority for Chicago.

"Most of our guys ... they are smaller receivers, so to have a little bit of a different flavor wouldn't be a bad idea," he said. "But as much as anything, you're trying to add a guy that can play ball. It doesn't fill your needs just adding a big guy. I thought our guys did a good job of blocking, and ... you could always make the case for having a bigger guy to block a little bit more. But it's more [being a good player] to me."

Fans should be happy to know the organization shares their wishes for a big receiver. Chicago recently signed former CFL wideout Andy Fantuz (6-4, 221-pounds) but it's far too early to tell if he is the answer. Smith's comments reiterate the prevailing belief that the player Chicago ultimately adds to its receiving corp., through either free agency or the draft, will not be with another quick, speedy pass catcher. It will be a player with size.

Bennett now on XBOX

For Bears fan that consider themselves gamers, a new playing partner just made himself available. He's better known as a possession receiver in the navy and orange, but Chicago WR Earl Bennett recently said on his Twitter page that he finally is an XBOX Live player as well.

"Ok I'm on Xbox now get at me Vanderalbilt10" he posted.

If anyone is looking for a famous Call of Duty playing partner, you now know where to find one.


Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.


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