Immediate presence

Fourth-round draft pick Nathan Vasher could be one of the Bears' first rookies to make an impact, and not just because the cornerback-punt returner became the first of the team's eight draft choices to sign on last week.

Vasher doesn't have blinding speed, but the 5-foot-10, 182-pounder is an elite punt-returner who averaged 14 yards per attempt in each of the last two seasons. He picked off 17 passes in three seasons as a starter, and Bears director of college scouting Greg Gabriel said he won't get bullied despite a lack of bulk.

"He can jump, he can run, he's been a physical player and a very good run support player at Texas," Gabriel said. "He's got a strong upper body, I think he's a 15-, 16-rep guy (in the bench-press) at 225 (pounds). He'll be fine.

"He has real good instincts, real good ball skills. We were looking for a corner in this round, and he was the corner we were looking to get."

Vasher will be giving up several inches in height to many NFC North receivers, including the Vikings' Randy Moss and Marcus Robinson and the Lions' Charles Rogers and rookie Roy Williams, Vasher's teammate at Texas. He compensates with other qualities.

"I think it's just being in the right position," he said. "You're talking about athletic ability, and I'll get some really good coaching up there in Chicago. I think I can cover the best."

He did in college when he went against wide receiver Roy Williams, the seventh overall selection in the draft.

"Last spring in two-a-days going into our senior year, I had the task of covering Roy Williams everywhere he went on the field," Vasher said. "And when I went out for the games, it seemed like everything else was a little bit easier for me. I feel like I've seen the best, and I've covered the best. I just want to get the chance to show exactly what I can do."

The Bears believe they already have three quality corners in Charles Tillman, Jerry Azumah and R.W. McQuarters. But Vasher could work his way into that rotation if the team decides it can't afford to pay McQuarters a starter's salary to play nickel corner and return punts, two roles that Vasher could wind up playing sooner rather than later.

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