He may have had to wait until the 26th pick of the fifth round before hearing his name called, but he wasted very little time making his mark on Sundays.
The Bears didn't appear to have much of a need at defensive end. Starters Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye were a solid pair and equally adept at rushing the passer and defending the run, and second-stringer Israel Idonije just had his offer sheet from Buffalo matched and would be back in Chicago again. GM Jerry Angelo had much more pressing needs on the offensive side of the ball, but he stuck with the take-the-best-player-available approach and pulled Anderson off the board.
Angelo had a history of finding defensive talent on Day 2 of the draft, and Anderson added his name to that list in a hurry.
Despite only starting one game, Anderson led the Bears with 12 sacks in the regular season and racked up 1.5 more in the playoffs. He had four multi-sack games and helped keep the likes of Brown and Ogunleye fresh down the stretch. Anderson finished second to Houston's DeMeco Ryans for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and posted 7.5 more sacks than fellow defensive end and No. 1 overall selection Mario Williams, also of Houston.
Anderson needs to be more consistent and has a long way to go as a run defender, but his future with the Bears is incredibly bright. Now it's up to Angelo to find another Day 2 draft pick that can come in right away and be a contributor on a team coming off an appearance in Super Bowl XLI. With the financials of the game more important than ever and player movement all the more commonplace, the ability to find that needle-in-a-haystack athlete is paramount.
Here are five below-the-radar prospects that interviewed individually with the Bears at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, so perhaps one of them could be the next draft day bargain:
DT Derek Landri - Notre Dame
At almost 6'3" and 288 pounds, Landri totaled 43 tackles, 8 tackles-for-loss, 3 sacks, 2 pass breakups, and 7 quarterback pressures in 2006 for the Fighting Irish. He proved to be incredibly durable by starting the last 37 games of his collegiate career, and he also showed his worth on special teams by blocking four kicks as a senior. With Ian Scott and Alfonso Boone likely to leave the Bears via free agency and Dusty Dvoracek and Antonio Garay still inexperienced, the Bears could use another body along the defensive front.
According to Scout.com, Landri is the No. 11 defensive tackle available and projects to be selected in the fifth round.
FB Le'Ron McClain - Alabama
At 6' and 256 pounds, McClain recorded 11 rushes for 64 yards and caught 20 passes for 175 yards and three touchdowns in 2006 for the Crimson Tide. He can run, he can catch, and he can block, but he still needs some work on the fundamentals of the game and committed numerous silly penalties in college. The Bears awarded starting fullback Jason McKie with a contract extension this past season, although 2005 draftee J.D. Runnels leaves a lot to be desired as a blocker and did not contribute as a rookie.
According to Scout.com, McClain is the No. 1 fullback available and projects to be selected in the third round.
S Kevin Payne - Louisiana-Monroe
At 6' and 220 pounds, Payne led the team with 98 tackles and was credited with 1 sack, 4 interceptions, and 3 pass breakups in 2006 for the Warhawks and even averaged 40.6 yards on 45 punts. He was a productive running back before moving to the defensive side of the ball his junior season, and he instantly became an All-Sun Belt Conference performer starting at both free and strong safety. Not only are reserve safeties Todd Johnson and Cameron Worrell free agents, but Pro-Bowler Mike Brown missed significant time for the third consecutive season and Chris Harris seems to be getting worse instead of better.
According to Scout.com, Payne is the No. 12 strong safety available and projects to be selected in the seventh round.
RB Tyrone Moss - Miami
At 5'9" and 231 pounds, Moss rushed 66 times for 285 yards and three touchdowns in 2006 for the Hurricanes serving as a backup after a torn ACL suffered the previous spring slowed him down. He showed good initial quickness running between the tackles and has the size and strength necessary to excel in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Thomas Jones led the Bears in rushing each of the last three seasons but has demanded a trade because of the team's commitment to Cedric Benson, so moving Jones would open up a spot on the roster for another tailback.
Moss is not one of the 30 best available tailbacks according to Scout.com and may go unselected, but he is expected to be a priority free agent after the draft.
LB KaMichael Hall - Georgia Tech
At 6' and 228 pounds, Hall led the team with 91 tackles and totaled 4 sacks and 4 pass breakups in 2006 for the Yellow Jackets. He ranks 12th in school history with 31 career tackles-for-loss and played all three linebacker positions as a collegian. Two-time Pro Bowl selection Lance Briggs may have been slapped with the franchise tag and will most likely be with the Bears in 2007, but he is asking for a ton of money in order to sign for the long term and may not be in the club's long-term future.
Hall is not one of the 10 best available weakside linebackers according to Scout.com and may go unselected, but he is expected to be a quality free agent pickup after the draft.
|John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and Editor in Chief of BearReport.com. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.|