Pressure from the front four is key to the Chicago Bears' Cover 2 system. In order to eliminate the big play, linebackers need to drop into zone coverage and forego blitzing. Yet a good quarterback will eat up any defense if given enough time, which is why pressure needs to come from up front, especially at defensive tackle. In Chicago's scheme, the under tackle plays the 3-technique. He needs to be a relatively smaller, quicker player who can get one-gap penetration.
The Bears are perilously thin at the position. Tommie Harris is gone, Anthony Adams is a free agent, Matt Toeaina is a rotational nose tackle and no one is sure how much Henry Melton can contribute. Had free agency started on schedule, the Bears would have most likely already grabbed another defensive tackle to add to the rotation. As it is, the team will need to look to the draft first in order to fill this glaring need.
The first three rounds are a great place to pick up an impact player. The crop of talent along the defensive line is very deep in this draft, with a cadre of impact players at the top. The Bears will most likely pick up one of the following players to hopefully come in and contribute right away.
Marcell Dareus, Alabama & Nick Fairley, Auburn
The top two defensive tackles will both be gone within the first 15 rounds of the draft. Chicago will not be adding either player unless they mortgage the team's future to trade up and grab one of them, which will not happen.
Corey Liuget, Illinois
Liuget (6-2, 298) is a pure 3-technique tackle that excels at one-gap penetration. He's stout against the run and plays sideline to sideline. He shows good game speed, and is quick and agile in the trenches. His blend of size and speed has many teams interested, so he may not be on the board at 29. If he is though, expect the Bears to pull the trigger.
Muhammad Wilkerson, Temple
Wilkerson (6-4, 315) is a physical freak that dominated the MAC the last two years. A former basketball player, he ran a 4.59 40-yard dash at the combine – outstanding for a player of his size. He's a little bigger though than the typical 4-3 tackle and may be better suited in a 3-4.
Phil Taylor, Baylor
Taylor (6-3, 334) would need to lose about 25 pounds in order to play tackle in Chicago's 4-3. His body type screams 3-4. The Bears don't consider him a great fit for their defense and will almost assuredly pass on him in the first.
Stephen Paea, Oregon State
Paea (6-1, 303) is arguably the strongest player in the entire draft. He recently set the Scouting Combine bench press record (49). He's a force inside yet does not have ideal quickness. He's outstanding against the run but only mediocre in the pass rush. While he's an extremely solid player, he might be a reach in the first round.
DT Drake Nevis
Marvin Austin, North Carolina
Based on pure talent alone, Austin (6-2, 309) is a first rounder. Yet his character concerns – the NCAA suspended him his senior season – are a huge red flag. As such, he'll most likely fall into the second round. If he gets his head straight, he would make an absolutely perfect fit for Chicago and allow the team to address the offensive line in Round 1.
Drake Nevis, LSU
Nevis, (6-1, 294) may be the quickest of all the top defensive tackles not named Dareus or Fairley. He explodes off the ball and uses a good blend of quickness and power to work through and around opposing linemen. His ability to power into the gap could make him an extremely disruptive force at the next level. He'll need to bulk up if he's to be an every down player but he'll at least be asset on third downs from Day 1.
Jurrell Casey, USC
Casey (6-1, 300) is a force against the run. He has a very thick base, making him hard to move, as well as a quick first step and an all-day motor. He chases runners down from sideline to sideline and is good at catching up to plays from behind. His one-gap penetration is above average and he can anchor at the point of attack as well. He won't be much use on third downs until he refines his pass rush.
Jarvis Jenkins, Clemson
Jenkins (6-4, 310) only posted 17 bench reps at the combine but he plays with great strength on the field. His size and outstanding balance make him nearly impossible to move. He's quick off the ball but doesn't show a lot when rushing the quarterback. He's more of a first- and second-down player, yet could develop into a monster under the tutelage of a coach like Rod Marinelli.
Terrell McClain, South Florida
The 6-1, 297-pound McClain stood out in both the East-West Shrine game and the Senior Bowl. He is stout, athletic and very quick. There are questions about his motivation yet he has all the physical tools to be a starter in the NFL. If the Bears' coaching staff can help him develop some consistency, he could be a draft steal.
Nevis is one of the most talented 3-technique tackle prospects in the draft. He is underrated due to his lack of ideal size, so he should be available for the Bears in the second round. His quickness, burst off the ball and ability to penetrate up the middle would make him a perfect fit as an under tackle in Chicago's Cover 2. Add a few pounds and experience and he could be a highly productive starter. By waiting until the second round to grab Nevis, the Bears could shore up the offensive line in the first.
Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.