Reviewing the draft: Chicago Bears

With a new head coach and new philosophies on both sides of the ball, the Chicago Bears came into this years draft needing better players at almost every position. Yet a more aggressive defense requires talented defensive linemen and the Bears made no secret which position was at the top of their draft board.  

Tommie Harris, the defensive tackle from Oklahoma, was a great value for the Bears at pick 14.  Harris is an impact defensive tackle that should not only start but produce immediately.  The athletic defender gives Lovie Smith something he never had from first round players drafted at the same position when he was in St. Louis; a lineman with great work ethic and determination.  Harris will be the focal point of the Bears new defensive line. Terry Johnson is another defensive tackle in the mold Smith prefers.  More athlete than mauler, Johnson offers the Bears a second defensive tackle that can make plays in the offensive backfield.  Johnson has the talent to win a starting job early in his career and should benefit if teams double up on Harris. Third round pick Bernard Berrian offers the Bears a developmental prospect at receiver that is a already polished.  A slender build coupled with top quickness along with solid fundamentals helped make Berrian a playmaker at receiver in college.  While he is unlikely to ever be the teams primary wide out he could complement Marty Booker nicely and could push for the third receiver spot as a rookie while also offering impact as a punt returned.  Nathan Vasher gives the Bears a solid playmaking cornerback that has size limitations and injury concerns.  Talent-wise, Vasher is already one of the Bears best cornerbacks and he will almost certainly be the teams nickel corner as a rookie.  He was good value in round four.  Leon Joe is a smallish but athletic outside linebacker who is characterized by his speed and pass coverage ability.  It is probable Lovie Smith sees Joe as a strong safety though he could also fit in as a weak-side linebacker in Smith's defensive scheme.  Claude Harriott is an undersized defensive end that had a horrible run leading up to the draft.  Rated by many as a second round selection heading into the season, indecisive play and size concerns caused Harriott to slide into the late rounds.  An excellent pass rusher with the size potential, Harriott could find a home in the Bears defensive end rotation if he gets back to his playing style of 2002. Quarterback Craig Krenzel is likely just a camp arm, though he does have a shot at the practice squad while cornerback Alfonso Marshall is another candidate for the practice squad, though he could find a home on special teams and also get on the field as a dime back.

Considering Detroit had one of the best drafts in the league and two other divisional opponents are consistently contending for the playoffs (Minnesota and Green Bay) Chicago needed to continue to build on the momentum they gained from the 2003 college selection process.  While the teams primary need was addressed early and often, the Bears still find themselves with a number of holes along their offense.  Yet down the road there could be four starters from this draft, which will go a long way to improve the franchise.

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