Prospect Watch: Senior Bowl DE

Although he was a good player and a good leader, Adewale Ogunleye was never an elite pass rusher for the Chicago Bears. With more sacks needed, a four-star D-end got their attention in Mobile.

It has been written before, and it will no doubt be written again: coach Lovie Smith's version of the Cover 2 doesn't work unless there is constant pressure on the enemy quarterback from the front four.

More often than not since the Super Bowl run of 2006, said pressure simply has not been there. Adewale Ogunleye got paid like a premier pass rusher once he arrived from Miami but proved to be something different. Alex Brown features an enviable all-around game but has never recorded more than seven sacks in a single season. Mark Anderson was a diamond in the rough as a rookie but nowhere to be found three straight years after that. Not surprisingly, Chicago has finished 28th, 21st and 17th in total defense from 2007-09.

Anderson will probably be back for another shot because no team wants to give up a draft pick to get him as a restricted free agent, but with Ogunleye most likely done in the Windy City, the Bears need a pass-rushing presence immediately.

Scout.com has confirmed that Murray State defensive end Austen Lane had an official meeting with the Bears leading up to last Saturday's Senior Bowl.


DE Austen Lane
Murray State Athletics

There is no question Lane still has a lot to show to NFL scouts since he played at a smaller school and didn't face elite competition, although he hung with the big boys quite nicely in Mobile and even scored a TD off a fumble recovery on Saturday. Selected as an FCS first-team All-American by The Associated Press as a senior, Lane totaled 64 tackles, 19.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, plus one interception and one fumble recovery. An exceptional athlete expected to run the 40-yard dash in 4.6 seconds or so at the Scouting Combine, he has surprisingly good technique and an array of moves rushing off the edge.

The 6-6, 267-pound Lane is currently Scout.com's No. 12 D-end prospect for the 2010 NFL Draft.

JC's Take: Nobody had more sacks in the 2000s than Jason Taylor, who came up with 111 of them, and he was once a third-round draft pick out of tiny Akron.

The Bears have a dilemma on their hands this offseason at defensive end, where the late Gaines Adams was expected to compete for a starting job in 2010 and perhaps realize the potential he never did in Tampa Bay. This D was already in serious need of a pass rusher before the Adams tragedy, with Ogunleye all but gone and Anderson's return not a certainty, so now that need is nothing short of desperate. While moving Brown over to left end would be a wise decision since he has always been miscast on the right side, currently there isn't a replacement on the roster at right end that would give Chicago fans any reason for excitement.

While general manager Jerry Angelo has taken small-school players before, hitting a home run with Abilene Christian receiver Johnny Knox but striking out with Central Michigan D-end Dan Bazuin, Lane won't even be there in Round 3 if he continues on his current path up draft boards.


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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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