The Bears valued the versatility Jarron Gilbert brought to the table last April as a third-round draft pick, with the potential to play either tackle or end along the defensive line, but his future looks to be at end.
Chicago knew Gilbert was going to be a project and got nothing out of him as a rookie, although he did earn some crunch-time snaps during an upset of the division-winning Vikings in Week 16 at Soldier Field. Now that Adewale Ogunleye is no longer under contract, coupled with the tragic death of Gaines Adams this offseason, Gilbert could be in the mix for a starting assignment in 2010 at left defensive end. However, the depth chart at defensive tackle would then be razor thin if the Bears decide not to pay former Pro Bowler Tommie Harris the $2.5 million roster bonus he is due this June.
While Israel Idonije can do myriad things on the D-line and always works wonders on special teams, asking him to be the starter at the three-technique tackle position would be unwise – he's simply not an every-down player.
Scout.com has confirmed that Texas defensive tackle Lamarr Houston had an official meeting with the Bears leading up to last Saturday's Senior Bowl.
Houston enjoyed a terrific senior year for the Longhorns, recording 57 tackles and seven sacks, plus he was at his best in the BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. Although Texas came out on the short end to the Crimson Tide 37-21, Houston was sensational with a season-high 10 tackles and also credited with a sack of 'Bama QB Greg McElroy. Experienced as a pass rusher and a run stuffer, Houston has the quickness to get into the backfield as a three technique and the strength to hold his ground as a nose tackle.
The 6-3, 302-pound Houston is currently Scout.com's No. 9 D-tackle prospect for the 2010 NFL Draft.
JC's Take: The Monsters of the Midway aren't quite ready to throw in the towel on Marcus Harrison, but after he arrived at training camp overweight and then didn't show any improvement from Year 1 to Year 2, they're not as high on the former third rounder as they were previously.
Although Anthony Adams continues to be an underrated player at nose tackle and makes his share of plays against the run, the Bears could use another tackle with pass-rushing ability that can be a part of the rotation on passing downs. Chicago tried to do that with Idonije and even defensive end Mark Anderson at times in 2009, with mixed results at best. Dusty Dvoracek can never stay healthy and Matt Toeaina was nothing but a game-day inactive this season, so there should be room on the roster for a player of Houston's pedigree to step in and contribute as a rookie.
If the Midway Monsters plan to soldier on without the not-what-he-used-to-be Harris, they'll need all the fresh bodies up front they can find.
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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.
Prospect Watch: Senior Bowl DT
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