Formal Introduction

The Bears 2004 draft will be remembered for the selection of Tommie Harris. The defensive tackle got his first taste of what it will be like to be a Bear on Monday and the high expectations that go with being a first-round pick.

"The best thing for me right now is just to associate with what the other guys are doing," Harris said. "Right now I'm just going through a learning process and hope that I can take what I learn and implement it in my own way."

The man most excited about Harris' arrival in Chicago is head coach Lovie Smith. He got exactly what he wanted in his first draft. Without a front-four player taken in the first 13 picks the Bears had the pick of the litter.

"Tommie was a guy that we had ranked as our top defensive lineman," Smith. "We were able to get the guy we really wanted, he's exactly what we would like to play with at the defensive tackle position, he's athletic and fast."

Since Smith took over as head coach he has emphasized how important speed is to his defense. While Harris might not have been the Bears type of pick a year ago, he's the perfect fit for a gap penetration scheme.

"He's exactly the picture you look for when you look for a defensive tackle in our system," Smith said.

Counting on someone that hasn't even turned 21 is a dangerous proposition. Defensive linemen often have a difficult time making an impact in their rookie season, something Michael Haynes found out last year.

"There's going to a learning curve and a maturing curve and we'll just have to let that be determined him and the coaches," GM Jerry Angelo said. "Look at them in the second and in particularly that third year. What you feel in terms of your evaluation that's when you're really going to see it. Sometimes they come in and they impact early, not often."

Publicly the Bears are saying they don't want to rush Harris or second-round pick Terry Johnson, but realistically with what is ahead of them on the depth chart they should play the bulk of the snaps as rookies.

"We do talk about the starting rotation and Bryan Robinson and Alfonso Boone have done a great job for us," Smith said. "We would like to have a three-man rotation at a lot of the defensive positions, we are going to put Tommie there. I think in time he will be one of those guys that will play quite a bit for us."

Harris played in a similar rotation at Oklahoma, which is part of the reason his college numbers weren't bigger. He also rarely went up against a lineman one-on-one and with the lack of impact players on the defensive line any type of early success could be curbed by a double-team.

Johnson and Harris may have to line up next to one another quicker than the Bears might want, but Smith has said he's not afraid to go with younger players.

Harris reflected on the chance to play with Johnson, who he became friendly with at the scouting combine.

"We're going to be real good."

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