Moon: Bears should look for next Tommie Harris

Moon: Bears should look for next Tommie Harris
March 9, 2011, 5:04 pm
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Posted: 10:58 a.m.

By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

The first things you want to get from Mel Kiper are his recipes.

Not for draft success. For breakfast.

The ESPN draft legend has a daily breakfast of a crab cake (Mel lives in the Chesapeake area so thats OK) and a slice of pumpkin pie. And no, Im not making that up.

But what Mel also has is a feeling that if the Bears are looking for quality help at defensive tackle and offensive line, which the Bears are, they would be better served to grab the big blocker with that first pick at No. 29 and look for their next Tommie Harris with that second-round pick.

I think you can definitely get players in the second round area for the defensive tackle spot who can be a factor for you, no question about it, Mel states. Offensive tackle, not as much. Thats a position right now, that unless youre looking at a Mississippi States Derek Sherrod slipping, and I dont think hes going to get past the mid-2 area, theres not a lot of certainty.

Mels forecast is that four offensive tackles will go off the board in the first round and very likely all between the picks of 13 and the Bears No. 29.

But GM Jerry Angelo believes in keeping a strength very strong, which tilts the thinking toward addressing defense first, particularly with a hole created over the past couple years with the decline and now departure of Harris. The first name that popped up was Drake Nevis from LSU is 6-1, 291 pounds, in the Harris mold.

Nevis isnt a first-rounder but hes a three-technique, quick, has some explosiveness, he is the kind of guy who wont fit some schemes because of size, Mel says. Here the proliferation of 3-4 schemes around the league work to the Bears advantage; more teams are looking for mastodons up front and rush linebackers behind them, and a Nevis type will not work for all those 3-4s (see: Green Bay Packers).

Defensive tackle Christian Ballard (6-foot-4, 298) If the labor situation resolves in time and the Bears can land someone like Cullen Jenkins from Green Bay, the defensive line urgency eases a bit and an aggressive Bears first-round move on the offensive line, maybe a trade up for Florida C-G Mike Pouncey, becomes a stronger possibility.

And Mel points out that Angelo and the Bears are big believers in players from Florida: Alex Brown, Ian Scott, Tron LaFavor, Todd Johnson, Rex Grossman, and most recently Major Wright. Besides Pouncey, particularly if the Bears strike for defense with the first pick, Marcus Gilbert (6-foot-6, 329) played both tackles and right guard on the Pouncey line and Mel drew a line under Gilberts name, as well as that of Alabamas James Carpenter down toward that second-round slot.

But as far as OL help down at that spot, and the Bears under Angelo have taken only two offensive linemen (Marc Colombo, Chris Williams) higher than the fourth round, there are options there; its just slim pickings, Mel cautioned. I think you have a better chance of getting a defensive tackle there than an offensive tackle.
Flighting Illini

Three Illinois players are likely to be gone early, no later than Round 2.

When the second round ends, three guys from the Fighting Illini will be off the board, Mel declared.

Defensive tackle Corey Liuget will be a mid-first rounder by all indications. And two of his teammates should go not long after that. Running back Mikel Leshore, Mels No. 2-rated rusher, could also go in the first round. Hes not Rashard Mendenhall, Mel said. But I like Leshoure but I like him late first-, early second round.

Linebacker Martez Wilson is in a good position to benefit from a draft class generally considered poor at inside linebacker, with Wilson the best by a significant margin, in Mels ratings.

The three Illini are all hot right now, Mel assessed. And you want to be peaking at the right time.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.