Joe linebacker officially a Bear

The Bears chose the fourth round as a starting point for signing their draft class. <p>

Now they can move on to other rounds after inking their second fourth-round pick, linebacker Leon Joe, to a four-year deal worth $1.75 million.

Joe was chosen with the 112th overall pick. The Bears had already come to terms for a $1.77 million deal over four years with fourth-rounder Nathan Vasher, a cornerback who was the 110th-pick overall. That deal laid out guidelines for the Joe deal.

"We had been talking with them for a while anyway, but it obviously helped that they signed their other fourth rounder right ahead of Leon," said Joe's agent, Jerrold Colton. "(Bears contract negotiator) Cliff Stein and (Bears GM) Jerry Angelo showed a lot of interest right away in wanting to get something done early."

The Bears' plan to use Joe has not changed since draft day.

"He's going to be behind Lance Briggs as our WILL (weak side) linebacker, so he's a guy that's going to add some depth for us and put us in a good situation as far as a player that can help us in the future," Bears linebackers coach Ron Rivera said.

Colton called the Bears situation a perfect fit for his client.

"He's been in working out with the team and couldn't be happier with the situation he's in," Colton said. "He feels it's an ideal situation coming into a defense with a coordinator like Ron Rivera, who played at linebacker."

Joe was a three-year starter at Maryland who made 322 tackles, including 22.5 for losses. He also had three sacks. In his final season, Joe made a career-high 112 tackles.

The knock on Joe by some scouting services prior to the draft -- besides a relatively short (6-foot-1) height -- was lack of football instincts. The Bears didn't see this.

"I heard people say Brian Urlacher didn't have instincts," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Totally wrong."

The Bears still have to sign first-round defensive tackle Tommie Harris, second-round defensive tackle Tank Johnson, third-round wide receiver Bernard Berrian, fifth-round defensive end Claude Harriott and quarterback Craig Krenzel and seventh-round cornerback Alfonso Marshall.

The two signings before mid-June is a relatively fast start on the signing front for the Bears.

As of late Wednesday, only the Pittsburgh Steelers had signed more draft picks (3) than the Bears.

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