Not Necessarily a New Need

With DT Tank Johnson expected to miss four to six months because of a torn quad muscle, the depth on the interior of the defensive line took a major hit. The Bears could turn to the draft in order to sure up the area or try to make due with what they have on the roster.

Losing Johnson is difficult, but the timing of the injury could still leave him ready by the start of the season. After coming off a 5.0 sack campaign, Johnson would have competed with Ian Scott for a starting job. Now the job is Scott's and he's proven to be a steady force on the line.

Tommie Harris went to the Pro Bowl in just his second season in the league. There's no reason he can't continue to improve and up his sack total of 3.0 in 2005.

With the starters set that leaves Alfonso Boone and Israel Idonije as the top reserves.

At 325 pounds Boone is the heaviest member of the line and is a run stuffing tackle. Still he has five years of experience and has started in the past.

The Bears paid heavily to retain Idonije, who signed a four-year $8.2 million deal with Buffalo as a restricted free agent. Chicago matched the offer because Idonije is versatile enough to play end or tackle. He's more than capable of taking on a larger role in the rotation and will now been called upon to do so.

Michael Haynes is also an option at tackle. A player who looked to be on his way out could now prove to be valuable. He doesn't have the speed the Bears want from an end, but could be a nickel pass rusher from the interior.

When healthy, the defensive tackle spot is arguably the deepest area on the team. While that statement may not be true without Johnson, it doesn't mean the Bears should use a first day selection on the position. There's a chance general manager Jerry Angelo will go after depth on the second day of the draft. He's had success there in the past, taking Scott in the fourth round of the 2003 draft.

There are too many other holes to fill to use a high selection on a defensive tackle. Aside from offensive needs, there are depth concerns at defensive end, linebacker and the secondary.

The Bears have a month to evaluate Johnson's progress. If a tackle is taken early it will signal their concern about his rehabilitation. With each passing round other positions are addressed it will show their confidence in players like Boone, Idonije and even Haynes.

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