Grading the draft

Strictly looking at what holes the Bears needed to fill heading into the draft the team deserves high marks. Whether or not the players they selected can actually make an impact is a different story.

A closer look at the Bears' picks:

Round 1/14 -- Tommie Harris, DT, 6-2 1/2, 292, Oklahoma
Uses superior speed and quickness to disrupt opposing offenses and was sometimes dominant, but he was also somewhat inconsistent. Bears were extremely surprised that he was available, along with the other three top defensive linemen, at No. 14. According to Bears, his less-than-awesome stats are the result of constant double-teams. Has the size and style of play that new coach Lovie Smith covets and, at the very least, he should be an immediate contributor in a DT rotation.

Round 2/47 -- Terry "Tank" Johnson, DT, 6-3, 305, Washington
Stock shot up after impressive performance at the Scouting Combine, which included a 4.69-second 40-yard dash, bench-pressed 225 pounds 31 times and had a 34-inch vertical jump. Inconsistent performer in college who flashed the ability to dominate and disrupt for short stretches but too often ran hot and cold. Had 35 tackles last season, including 18 1/2 for losses and 10 sacks and made second team All-Pac-10. Character concerns related to difficult childhood in Gary, Ind., may have scared off some teams, but Bears say they're convinced he won't be a problem.

Round 3/78 -- Bernard Berrian, WR, 6-1, 183, Fresno State
Had a huge 2001 season as David Carr's go-to guy, catching 76 passes for 1,270 yards and 13 touchdowns and returning 39 punts for 552 yards (14.2-yard average) and 27 kickoffs for 668 yards (24.7-yard average). Had foot surgery after '01 season and then suffered a sprained knee in the '02 opener and redshirted. Came back full strength in '03 but missed Carr, although he still caught 63 passes for 668 yards and 4 TDs and returned 42 punts for 429 yards and 26 kickoffs for 631 yards. Ran poorly at the combine (4.59) but stock soared with impressive late workouts, which included 4.48 on grass at Fresno State's pro day.

Round 4/110 -- Nathan Vasher, CB, 5-10, 182, Texas
Had 17 career interceptions, including 6 last season and 26 pass break-ups. One of the top punt returners in the nation, averaging 14 yards per attempt in each of the past two seasons and 15.0 in 2001. In 2001, playing strong safety, started 13 games and had 7 interceptions, tying a school record. He returned 37 punts for 554 yards, ranking sixth in the nation.

Round 4/112 -- Leon Joe, LB, 6-0 1/2, 230, Maryland
Fastest linebacker in the draft, who was clocked in as low as 4.43 at Maryland. Best strength numbers ever for a Maryland linebacker: bench-pressed 475 pounds, vertical-jumped 41 inches. Starter for three years. Had 112 tackles last season, 103 in '02 and 76 in '01, but could be a workout warrior who tests better than he plays and is a better athlete than football player. Lacks bulk and football intelligence.

Round 5/147 -- Claude Harriott, DE, 6-3 1/2, 252, Pitt
Former backup to Bears LB Bryan Knight at Pitt and succeeded him as the starter in 2002. All-Big East in first season as a starter, totaling 21 tackles for negative yardage, including 9 1/2 sacks. Regressed in '03 with 7 tackles for minus yardage and 2 sacks after spraining his knee in the spring. Let success in '02 go to his head and didn't play as hard or effectively, but he has demonstrated pass-rush ability in the past. At 252 pounds appears to be exclusively a situational pass rusher at DE.

Round 5/148 -- Craig Krenzel, QB, 6-3 1/2, 228, Ohio State
Molecular genetics major who plans to attend med school in the future and follow in the footsteps of older brother Brian, who played football at Duke and is enrolled in Louisville's med school. Career record of 24-3 as a starter. Never put up great stats in a run-oriented offense and is considered streaky passer but an excellent leader and a winner. Completed 153 of 278 passes for 2,040 yards with 15 TDs and 10 interceptions last season and 148 of 249 passes for 2,110 yards, 12 TDs and 7 picks in '02.

Round 7/215 -- Alfonso Marshall, CB, 5-11, 180, Miami
High school state champion in the 200 and 400 meters and 4X400-meter relay. Didn't become a starter until his senior season. Undersized player who lacks bulk but has good, not great, speed. Was not a quick learner in college but has the athleticism to become a decent man-to-man cover corner. Best bet appears as an extra DB in obvious passing situations and on special teams.

Best Pick: Oklahoma DT Tommie Harris was not expected to be there when the Bears picked at 14. It was assumed by most that they would have to settle for Miami DT Vince Wilfork, who did not fit the team's scheme nearly as well. While Harris did not put up tremendous stats last season at Oklahoma, he was frequently double-teamed and he won the Lombardi Award as the top interior lineman in the nation. He was a starter for the Sooners from the beginning of his freshman season without redshirting.

For a team desperate for help on the defensive line, the first round of the draft couldn't have gone any better for the Bears, who got Oklahoma's 6-foot-2 1/2-inch, 295-pound junior tackle Tommie Harris.

"We got a little luck," Bears GM Jerry Angelo said. "It just fell our way."

All of the top four defensive linemen were still on the board when the Bears' first pick rolled around at No. 14, and they chose Harris over Wilfork and a pair of defensive ends, Southern Cal's Kenechi Udeze and Ohio State's Will Smith.

"Tommie was a guy that we had (rated) as our top defensive lineman," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "With that 14th pick, you were keeping your fingers crossed and doing a lot of praying, and we were able to get the guy that we really wanted."

Steal: Cornerback Nathan Vasher wasn't considered in the same category as the top players at that position, so he fell to the middle of the fourth round. But the Bears were impressed at his production in a major conference, which included 17 interceptions in three seasons as a starter.

Additionally, he never averaged less than 14.0 yards per punt return over the past three seasons, and could be an immediate starter at that spot.

Value pick: Fifth-round pick Claude Harriott was talked about as a potential first-round pick before this year. Getting him late could work out.

Overall grade: B. Getting Harris is a good pick, as is Vasher, but second-round pick Terry Johnson is a risk.

As a staff, the Bears are confident that any perceived behavior problems involving Johnson are in his past, a past they admit was difficult, dating back to his childhood in Gary, Ind.

"I'm not sure how much of a character issue it is, as much as it is his past history, his history growing up," defensive coordinator Ron Rivera said. "He had a rough life growing up."

While some NFL scouts expressed concern over Johnson's alleged involvement in a car theft as a teenager, he was never convicted of any crime, and the Bears received positive reports from people who were close to the player at Washington. But Johnson remains a mystery.

"One of the things we seemed to get a lot of when we looked at all the conversations and evaluations we had with people, was that it was hard to get to know this young man," Rivera said. "The people who do claim to know him said they would be really surprised if there was a problem. And these are people that we felt very comfortable having talked to about Tank."

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