Hester Latest to Sign

The Bears have been aggressive in trying to get the 2006 draft class under contract. After signing cornerback Devin Hester and linebacker Jamar Williams to four-year deals on Sunday, only two draft picks remain unsigned.

Hester, a second round pick out of Miami, received a signing bonus of approximately $1.25 million. Earlier in the day, Williams received a $415,000 signing bonus as the team's fourth round selection out of Arizona State.

Hester proved to be a versatile threat for the Hurricanes. He posted 33 tackles and five interceptions as a cornerback, caught 10 passes for 196 yards as a receiver, rushed for 160 yards and a score on 24 carries, while averaging 25.5 yards on 40 kick returns and 15.6 yards on 41 punt returns. He also returned four punts and two kickoffs for touchdowns.

"You could make the case for saying we took him as an athlete," said director of college scouting Greg Gabriel after the team took Hester with the 57th overall pick. "He can play offense, he can play defense, he can return."

As a pro, Hester will focus his attention on cornerback. However, his biggest impact will come in the return game as a rookie. He's the favorite to win the punt return job and could also be used on kickoffs. Still, the five-foot-11, 185-pounder wants to become a factor in the secondary.

"I do want to show them that I'm capable of being a great corner," Hester said at rookie mini-camp. "I know everybody's looking at the special teams, it's already there, but I don't want to be labeled as just a special teams guy. I want to be labeled as a lockdown corner and that's what I'm out here trying to do."

A three-year starter at Arizona State, Williams totaled 256 tackles, 25 for loss, 6 sacks, 8 interceptions, 3 fumble recoveries and 4 forced fumbles in 48 games for the Sun Devils.

Immediately, the six-foot, 236-pound Williams is expected to add depth and versatility at linebacker. He's athletic enough to be able to play inside or outside.

Aside from the draft's top overall choice DE Mario Williams from the Houston Texans, Hester becomes the second highest draft pick (57th overall) to a sign a deal. Hester and Williams join defensive end Mark Anderson, fullback J.D. Runnels and guard Tyler Reed as draft picks who have agreed to terms.

The remaining selections yet to sign are second-round pick safety Danieal Manning (42nd overall) and third-round selection defensive tackle Dusty Dvoracek (73rd overall). Both players are expected to have deals by the time players report to training camp on July 26.


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