However, when one of them is out of the lineup due to injury, the secondary just isn't the same and becomes vulnerable in the passing game. The Bears learned that lesson the hard way this past season, as Vasher missed 12 weeks because of a groin problem and the defense subsequently gave up 231.8 yards per game through the air – just 27th in the league. Seventh-round rookie Trumaine McBride played admirably on defense and fifth-rounder Corey Graham made an impact on special teams, but nickelback Ricky Manning Jr. was a disappointment and could be cut in the relatively near future.
Teams can never have enough defensive backs in today's NFL, so the Bears are digging deep and looking for lesser-heralded prospects in April's draft capable of providing quality depth.
CB Zackary Bowman (1)
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James Jones on the Scout.com network has confirmed that team officials have shown interest in Nebraska cornerback Zackary Bowman, a very talented player with a lengthy injury history.
Bowman (6-0 1/2, 196) has an enviable combination of size and speed, which could make him a perfect fit for Lovie Smith's version of the Cover-2 scheme. He is strong enough to take receivers off their routes with physical play near the line of scrimmage, and he's also shown good ball skills with above-average leaping ability. However, he hasn't been on the field very much since being named a JuCo All American at the New Mexico Military Institute in 2004, as a torn ACL cost him the entire 2006 season.
According to Bowman in an interview with Jones at CardinalInsider.com, the teams that have shown the most interest in him – aside from the Bears – are the 49ers, Chiefs, Patriots, and Raiders.
Cornerback is not a high priority for general manager Jerry Angelo because Tillman and Vasher are both signed to long-term contracts, but Bowman was once a first-round talent who could still be on the board late on Day 2 – a boom-or-bust pick in every sense of the term for medical concerns.
John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.