Rookie Report: Mark Anderson

Many have suggested the Bears got a steal by taking Mark Anderson in the fifth round of the draft. The defensive end should be able to contribute as a rookie and become something special with time to develop.

At six-foot-4, 254-pounds Anderson seems to be the perfect example of a Lovie Smith type defensive end. An accomplished athlete, Anderson also brings a high degree of football intelligence and a fierce desire to win.

After redshirting as a freshman, Anderson appeared in 50 games over four seasons with 30 starts, including the final 29 of his career. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native finished with 141 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 25 tackles for loss, forced five fumbles, recovered three fumbles and had two pass break-ups.

"I played with a dominant defense at Alabama so I think my transition to the pros should go well," Anderson said. "I think that I am quick for my size, I have good instincts for the ball, and I am aggressive."

Anderson impressed scouts by getting a sack in the Senior Bowl. He posted an unbelievable 42-inch vertical jump at the combine. That he fell to the Bears with the 159th overall pick was somewhat of a surprise to Anderson himself, as well as to the national draft gurus who had singled out the Alabama senior as a possible second round choice.

Excited about being taken by a team that ran a scheme that fit his talent, Anderson can now look back somewhat philosophically at the stress of draft day and realize "‘it all worked out ‘or the best, the way it was supposed to in the end."

The biggest thing standing Anderson's way from contributing will be gaining experience and refining his technique, something training camp should help.

"At this point I'm just trying to learn the way the Bears coaches want the position played," Anderson said. "I want to feel comfortable with playing at this level, although it doesn't really feel that different from what I went through at Alabama. I have heard from the coaches that I need to work with my hands more so that's my concentration right now. Also I'm trying to increase my speed. I know that this game is much faster than college.

Although the Bears have two Pro Bowl alternates at defensive end, Anderson has a lot to offer immediately and for the foreseeable future. In fact, the second day pick could end up as one of the best bargains of the draft.

"Of course I want to start, but I know that I have to earn my way into the lineup," Anderson said. "I give the best I can, work hard every practice, and do what I'm told. I want to contribute sooner rather than later. I have a chip on my shoulder from being overlooked by so many teams in the early rounds of the draft. I definitely feel I have something to prove."

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