Mike Brown hasn't played a full 16-game schedule since 2003, and even though he gutted it out for 15 games before falling back on injured reserve this year, the former Pro Bowler appears to be on his way out of town.
But if we assume Brown won't be in the Windy City next season, that puts the entire secondary in a quandary. Should Charles Tillman make the long-awaited move from corner to safety? Can Danieal Manning finally develop into the safety his physical tools suggest he can be? Will Nathan Vasher get healthy again and return to his old form? Should Corey Graham be a full-time starter at this point? Is Zack Bowman a one-game wonder or a potential solution? The questions outnumber the answers in the defensive backfield right now – by a longshot.
Based on what general manager Jerry Angelo's crew has been up to this week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, there is even more evidence to suggest that Brown won't be back in 2009.
Scout.com is reporting that officials from the Bears spent a great deal of time at Tuesday's practice with three of the top tier safeties: Louis Delmas of Western Michigan, Nic Harris of Oklahoma, and Chip Vaughn of Wake Forest.
Delmas (5-11.5, 195) started from the moment he stepped foot on campus as a true freshman, and he also has some ability as a kick returner in addition to his prototypical build at the free safety position. Harris (6-2, 233) played safety for the Sooners but is being scouted by some pro teams as a linebacker, as he packs a punch in the box and reads the quarterback's eyes well but is not very fluid in coverage. Vaughn (6-1, 218) is a madman in run support and has always been known as an all-effort kind of guy, although sometimes his aggressiveness can work against him because he'll lose track of receivers down the field.
Delmas is listed as the No. 4 safety available for the 2009 NFL Draft by the experts at Scout.com. Harris is No. 5 and Vaughn is No. 8. While Delmas could go on Day 1 in the second round, both Harris and Vaughn look like middle-rounders on Day 2.
Three of the four players Chicago representatives scouted heavily Tuesday play the safety position, so look for that spot to be addressed in the draft quickly.
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.
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