Combine Preview

For the first time in several seasons the Bears don't have a high first round draft choice still the team's management has a job to do at the scouting combine, which begins Friday and goes through Monday.

This is Jerry Angelo's first draft with the Bears and he brings a philosophy of productivity on the field being the more important than an individual's 40-yard dash time.

"It's a mixture you don't get to carried away on anything in the off-season in terms of there testing," Angelo said. "That's important, but basically you go off the tape and how they play the game. That will be the protocol we use on every player we draft."

The Bears needs in the draft include tight end, rush defensive end and quarterback. At the 29th spot Chicago has an opportunity take the best available player from any of the three positions.

Most likely that will mean either a tight end or defensive end will be chosen in the first round, because there are two top tier quarterbacks in David Carr and Joey Harrington then a steep drop to names such as Patrick Ramsey, Rohan Davey and Kurt Kittner.

Daniel Graham of Colorado and Jeremy Shockey from Miami are the top tight ends in the draft. Both of them are solid pass catchers with Graham being the better blocker.

There are several pass rush specialists the Bears will be able to choose from. Dwight Freeney (6-2, 250-Syracuse), Alex Brown (6-3, 255-Florida) and Alabama-Birmingham's Bryan Thomas (6-4, 255) are among the names that could be available. Last season Freeney set Big East records with eight forced fumbles and 17.5 sacks, Brown had 10.5 sacks and Thomas registered 14 sacks. Any of these players would be used between 15-20 plays per game.

The Bears used Rosevelt Colvin as defensive end in nickel and dime defenses to give the defense an additional pass rush threat. That moved Bryan Robinson inside and got the big tackles off the field. The move resulted in Colvin leading the team in sacks with 10.5.

The defense ended the season with 48 sacks a marketable improvement from the 2000 season when the group tallied just 36 QB takedowns.

However, the unit is looking to put consistent pressure on the quarterback. Greg Blache has often said that sacks are overrated. It is putting pressure on the quarterback that results in turnovers from poor decisions. Blache said he would welcome a pass rush upgrade.

"We're looking for some guy who is young, affordable and healthy that come in and help elevate football team," Blache said. "We'd like to elevate our pass rush and elevate our consistency. We'd like to be a little more consistent (with the pass rush) then we were last year."

Karon Riley, the team's fourth round choice last season, was a pass rusher coming out of Minnesota, but made the active roster just five times all season.

The quarterbacks will begin to weed themselves out at the combine. At this point Ramsey has emerged as the third quarterback behind Carr and Harrington, but a lot can change between now and April 20. Despite having a strong arm the Tulane QB has to improve his accuracy.

Davey is in the mold of Daunte Culpepper with good size and speed. But, his weight could become a problem as he weighed in at 251 pounds at the Senior Bowl after expecting to come in around 240. He has a great arm, but his accuracy has come into question partially because of the extra pounds. He could go as high as the second round or fall into the third or even fourth depending on his workouts.

Kittner has been a productive four-year starter at Illinois and played in a pro style offense under Ron Turner. But, unlike the other two prospects Kittner's arm strength is a concern. In addition Kittner is on the small side measuring in at under 6-2, which could drop him even further come draft day. He should go somewhere in the range of round three or four.


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