Eye on the Future

While there may be more pressing needs, linebacker is a position the Bears will address in the draft. The team wants an immediate upgrade in depth as well as insurance incase Lance Briggs' contract demands become too pricey. Chicago scouts have shown interest in a prospect from the MAC.

The Bears have been keeping serious tabs on Miami-Ohio LB Terna Nande. The six-foot, 229-pounder has rare athletic ability. He ran the forty in 4.51 seconds, can bench 520 pounds, squat 620 pounds and has a vertical jump of 38 inches.

Nande has fallen under the radar because he missed five games during his senior season with a lacerated liver. He posted 44 tackles in the injury-shortened campaign. His best production came as a sophomore, when he posted 109 stops, including 20 for loss, 5.5 sacks and four interceptions.

With All Pro MLB Brian Urlacher and WLB Lance Briggs, the Bears have the best one-two punch at linebacker in the game. SLB Hunter Hillenmeyer is a restricted free agent, but the team is expected to match any reasonable offer he may receive on the open market.

Although Nande might slip to the second day of the draft, he could contribute on special teams as a rookie. A year in a limited role to learn the defense would lead to an opportunity to start in 2007, whether at strong-side linebacker or as a possible replacement for Briggs.

Briggs is seeking big-time money and the contract (seven years $54 million) LB Julian Peterson recently signed with Seattle will only solidify his case. The Bears see Nande as a definite fit at weak-side in their one-gap defense.

Even though Scout.com ranks Nande as the 22nd best player at outside linebacker, he's still a three-star prospect who could be a steal in the middle rounds.

General manager Jerry Angelo selected Briggs in the third round of the 2003 draft and he started 13 games as a rookie. He also plucked Hillenmeyer off the waiver wire later that year. Recent history hasn't been as kind for Angelo. Fourth round pick Leon Joe was cut after just one regular game, but has since rejoined the club. Rod Wilson, last year's seventh round selection, missed his entire rookie season with a knee injury.

TFY Draft Preview Scouting Report
Positive:
Explosive defender best as a one-gap linebacker. Fast laterally, collapses from the outside defending the run and stays with assignments. Flashes abilities in space, easily alters his angle of attack and stands out in pursuit.

Negative: Not efficient, over-pursues the action and takes incorrect angles to the play. Late acting in coverage and has marginal ball skills.

Analysis: A hard-working defender, Nande is a solid run-defending linebacker best in the box. Must complete his game but at the very least a developmental prospect who should stand out on special teams.


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