Moon: Bears should look for next Tommie Harris

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Moon: Bears should look for next Tommie Harris

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.

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Bears-49ers: And the winner is?

Both teams are on track to be drafting in the top five, and the inevitable “the loser is the winner” talk has made its rounds, meaning that a defeat moves the loser higher in the draft order. The reality is that neither team will tank the game for draft position.

But the chances of two woeful teams playing well are slim. The 49ers won in Week 1 and then have lost 10 straight. The Bears are trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time under John Fox.

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Quarterback Colin Kaepernick burst upon the NFL scene in 2012 with a blowout of the Bears in his first start. He has regained his starting job in San Francisco and is still one of the prototypical mobile quarterbacks.

But the 49ers are the NFL’s worst defense in both points and yardage allowed, and they are the worst rushing defense in the league. Expect the Bears to try exploiting that and give quarterback Matt Barkley a balanced run-pass game plan.

Prediction: Bears 24, 49ers 20

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Bears hoping to get Kyle Fuller back in DB mix sooner rather than later

Kyle Fuller was one of the seeming fixtures in the Bears’ defense as it transitioned from the 4-3 of old to the 3-4 of Vic Fangio. And he may be again, the Bears hope very soon, as he has begun practicing after months on injured reserve following knee surgery in August.

The Bears could place Fuller on the active roster as late as Saturday after he practiced all three days this week. “He made it three days in practice, no setbacks,” said coach John Fox. “He seems to be adapting pretty well. He has another practice [Saturday] and we don’t have to make a decision until 3 p.m. because of where he is on the roster. We’ll evaluate that after tomorrow.”

Were Fuller to return — restoring one projected 2016 starter to a defense that has been forced to field five different starting secondaries in the span of 11 games — he may be phased back in with a managed number of snaps, as other certain other players returning from injury have been.

But getting Fuller back projects to be an instant upgrade for a defensive backfield among the NFL’s worst at producing takeaways.

“We all play different positions so we’re kind of used to it, people moving in and out over the year,” said Bryce Callahan, who was initially ticketed for nickel duty as the No. 3 cornerback this season but has been pressed into service starting at cornerback in four games.

“It’s always good to get someone like Kyle back.”

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The Bears would need to weigh what workload Fuller could handle vs. roster needs based on only having 46 players active on game day.

“You’re always a little bit cautious because it does affect your roster,” Fox said. “But if you feel like he makes you better, that’s a move you make. Now we’re just working through him medically, durability-wise, and how much he can play.”

Jay Cutler (shoulder) was officially declared out and is headed for surgery on Saturday, ultimately to injured reserve.

Other availability questions include receiver Eddie Royal (toe), guard Josh Sitton (ankle) and safety Adrian Amos (ankle), all questionable. Linebacker Willie Young (knee) did not practice but linebacker Leonard Floyd was able to practice on a limited basis although his status in the concussion protocol will not be known until closer to game time.