Bears stick with plan 'D'

LAKE FOREST -- Lovie Smith is doing it his way. That was evident at this past weekend's NFL draft. The first-year Bears coach stayed true to his word of taking quick and athletic players, especially on defense.

The Bears selected six defensive players with their eight overall picks and proved that Smith's needed a new influx of talent to run his scheme based on speed.

The Bears continued Sunday where they left off Saturday, picking Texas cornerback Nathan Vasher and Maryland linebacker Leon Joe with their two fourth-round picks.

Vasher, who had 17 career interceptions with the Longhorns, has 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash and experience at corner, safety and punt returner.

Joe, a weight-lifting fanatic, is a little undersized at 6-foot, 232 pounds, but has the speed and athleticism the Bears were looking for.

"Big (established) schools and speed," said Greg Gabriel, the team's director of college scouting. "These guys are going to make the team, they're going to be quality players and they're going to be very good special teams players."

The Bears had the 104th pick -- received from trading Ted Washington to New England last season -- but traded down to 110 with San Francisco to add a fifth-round pick, the 147th overall.

That was where the Bears landed Pittsburgh defensive end Claude Harriott, a 6-foot-3, 252-pounder who specializes in getting after the quarterback. With the very next pick, Chicago selected Ohio State quarterback Craig Krenzel, who led the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2002. Krenzel was rated lower than some guys still left on the board -- notably Michigan's John Navarre -- but team officials said they liked Krenzel's intangibles, especially his intelligence.

Offensive coordinator Terry Shea said Krenzel was the quarterback the team coveted all along. Krenzel, who had plans to attend medical school, told the team "he'd rather be a quarterback than a doctor." The Bears believe Krenzel will be their No. 3 quarterback behind starter Rex Grossman and backup Jonathan Quinn. Team officials at the draft confirmed they don't picture Krenzel being a starter, but a quality backup for years to come.

"It's always been my No. 1 goal, aspiration and dream of playing in the NFL," Krenzel said. "(Medical school) is a backup plan for me if football doesn't work out."

Gabriel called Vasher -- the team's first pick during Sunday's final day of the draft -- "the best, if not the second-best punt returner in college football" last season. Vasher averaged 14 yards on punt returns during his career and competed against top-notch competition at Texas. He worked against wide receiver Roy Williams, the No. 7 overall pick of the Lions, in practice every day.

Joe owns the Maryland record for bench press (475 pounds) and vertical jump (41 inches) by a linebacker.

"You look throughout the league and what you see is people (drafted) who have to fit systems and have to fit schemes," Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. "We think we got that."

Harriott had 13 1/2 sacks at Pittsburgh, including 9 1/2 as a junior in 2002, a season Gabriel hopes he can duplicate in the NFL after a down season battling a high-ankle sprain in '03.

"We're hoping we get the '02 Harriott," Gabriel said. "We've only got three defensive ends on the roster; he makes the team. So you've got a fifth-round pick that makes the team and his specialty is rushing the passer."

The Bears chose Miami (Fla.) cornerback Alfonso Marshall in the seventh round with the 215th overall selection, their final pick of the draft.

The Bears' mini-camp runs Friday through Sunday.

Breakout 1 Bears draft picks
* Nathan Vasher, CB, Texas
5-10, 177 pounds
Fourth round, 110th overall

* Leon Joe, LB, Maryland
6-0, 230 pounds
Fourth round, 112th overall

* Claude Harriott, DE, Pittsburgh
6-3, 252 pounds
Fifth round, 147th overall

* Craig Krenzel, QB, Ohio State
6-3, 228 pounds
Fifth round, 148th overall

* Alfonso Marshall, CB, Miami (Fla.)
6-0, 187 pounds
Seventh round, 215th overall

Bear Report Top Stories