Positional Analysis: Defensive Line

The Bears have an embarrassment of riches on the front four. The group is young and deep. In fact, there is so much talent that a former first round pick is not likely to be back with the club next season.

DEFNSIVE LINE: Starters - LE Adewale Ogunleye, LT Tommie Harris, RT Ian Scott, RE Alex Brown. Backups - DT Tank Johnson, DT Alfonso Boone, DE Israel Idonije, DE Michael Haynes.

The Bears' success on defense begins here. The group accounted for 28.5 of the team's 41.0 sacks, while remaining stout against the run.

Ogunleye returned to his Pro Bowl form of 2003 with a team-best 10 sacks, and Brown continued to improve but still doesn't finish as many plays as he could. Both are undersized players who are more effective as pass rushers and chasing plays, but neither is a liability at the point of attack.

Harris is often a disruptive force in the middle with an impressive combination of speed, quickness and strength, but he sometimes disappears. Despite finishing the season with just 3.0 sacks, he made the Pro Bowl in his second season. The nod is a tribute to how much opposing offenses have to account for his rare athletic ability on the interior of the line.

Unsung Scott plugs the middle against the run even though he is often doubled. He makes the most of his talent and is in line for a contract extension a year away from free agency.

Johnson replaces Scott in the Bears' nickel package and was fourth on the team with five sacks. He could push for more playing time in 2006, but it will be difficult to cutback on snaps for Scott.

Boone has some limited-area quickness for a man his size and plays a lot in the Bears' four-tackle rotation. He's a solid run stuffer that showed surprising versatility when he lined up at end on occasion.

At 6-foot-6 and 275, Idonije has the most versatility and some upside. He also plays special teams, which is partially why he passed former first-rounder Haynes on the depth chart. With Haynes not likely to be back next season, Idonije should see his field time increase.

Haynes was inactive for five games in the regular season plus the divisional-round contest. The 14th overall choice in the 2003 draft may not fit the Bears' scheme. He isn't big enough to play inside and lacks quickness the team wants from an end. He finished with 17 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Haynes doesn't appear to be a favorite of Bears coach Lovie Smith, leaving his future with the Bears uncertain.

"I have no idea what is going to happen in this off-season," Haynes said. "Obviously, I want more plays than this, so I'll do what is necessary to get more plays, whether it's here or anywhere else."

Haynes, who had 31 tackles as a rookie and 41 last season, has a low base salary of $690,000 next season, but that jumps to $1.8 million in 2007. If he is back next season, which is questionable, he'll have to play more and more effectively, but he won't play ahead of either of the Bears' starting ends.

"They have two great ends," Haynes said. "I don't want anyone to give me anything. Both of those guys have earned their right to start. Alex has been a starter for four years now. Wale has been to the Pro Bowl. It's just one of those things. I want to play. So wherever it is is wherever it is."

It probably isn't in Chicago.

The Bears are unlikely to invest much on the defensive line in the off-season. A second day draft pick could be the only new face among the group next season.

Scout.com contributed to this report.

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