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.

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Can Deiondre' Hall overcome on- and off-field hurdles to make an impact with Bears?

Rookie Deiondre' Hall flashed in the preseason a year ago, leading the Bears coaching staff and fans to believe they found something amidst their trio of 2016 fourth round draft picks. 

He’s hoping to do the same this August after overcoming one physical hurdle, while waiting to see if he can get past a legal hurdle he created for himself.

Let’s start on the field, where, just days after his first NFL interception in the fourth game last season, he sustained an ankle injury in practice, sidelining him for two months. Once his walking boot and scooter were finally put away, he was active for the final four games. But what progress he’d been making on the field was difficult to recapture.

“Just coming off the injury, there was a little rust here and there, but the training staff here’s great and I had to push through it,” Hall said at last week’s minicamp in Lake Forest after he was one of numerous Bears hit by the injury bug, but not one of the 19 who wound up on Injured Reserve. “(I was) getting comfortable with the defense and in myself playing with those guys out there, getting the opportunity in the red zone and making plays. But the injury kinda sucked because I haven’t really had an opportunity to play since Week 5, so I’m not necessarily starting fresh.”

As the offseason unfolded, Hall was informed the coaching staff was going to try him at safety, if not permanently, then as an option for the 6-foot-2, 201-pound Northern Iowa product. 

But Hall’s not totally foreign to the position. He was a free safety his first year in college, then transitioned to outside linebacker/nickel as a sophomore, moved to cornerback as a junior before breaking his hand his senior year, playing through it back where he started at safety. So the decision wasn’t a big deal, especially if it enhances his chances to get on the field. But his preference?

“Defense. Opportunity,” Hall responded. “You get in where you fit in and the more you can do, the better it is for the team. If opportunity presents itself at corner, then I’m at corner. But right now at safety, I’m making strides (there) and keep pushing for that.”

“We’re gonna float him back and forth,” defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said last month, after the Bears signed free agent cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper in the off-season, while Bryce Callahan and Cre’Von LeBlanc are expected to battle for slot duty and former first-rounder Kyle Fuller and veterans Johnthan Banks and B.W. Webb hope to impress. “He (Hall) had some experience there in college. When it comes down to picking your team and you’re taking nine or 10 DBs, if someone’s got versatility to play both of those spots, that helps, so we’re gonna see if he’s one of those guys.”

But before Hall gets back to work in Bourbonnais, he’ll find out if he has some other dues to pay. Hall was back at his alma mater’s Cedar Falls campus March 26th when he and a former UNI teammate were arrested outside a bar called Sharky’s. Police had responded to a call, and by the time all was said and done, Hall needed to be tased before being arrested on charges of public intoxication, interference (with an arrest), and disorderly conduct. 

The case was continued late last month and Hall’s jury trial is scheduled for July 11th. Pending the outcome, he could face disciplinary action from the team and the NFL. He’s told his side of the story to Bears management and while expressing remorse for putting himself in the situation, Hall says it wasn’t in character and feels confident in what the outcome will be.

“People make mistakes and the truth always comes out,” the 23-year-old said, adding the situation isn’t weighing on his mind or affected his preparation in off-season workouts. “You gotta let people make their own mistakes. I won’t shed light but the truth always comes out, and (I’ve learned) just don’t take anything for granted.”

“My main focus is football and keep pushing to make strides to become good, and great.”

Bears announce training camp schedule

Bears announce training camp schedule

The Bears released their official training camp schedule Thursday morning. After reporting to Olivet Nazarene on Wednesday, July 26, the first of ten practices open to the public will take place the following day. The Bears will be based out of Bourbonnais for the 16th straight season. Training camp will go through Sunday, Aug. 13 before the Bears break camp and finish the preseason in Lake Forest. 

All practices are tentatively scheduled to start at various times during the 11 a.m. hour with the exception of Saturday, Aug. 13, which starts at 12:05 p.m. Those times are subject to change based on weather, and a varying set of schedules that John Fox and his coaching staff have set up, as they adjust to player and training staff preferences in hopes of reducing injuries. 

Also, new this season, fans wanting to attend practices must order free tickets in advance through the Bears website. Fans will not be allowed in without a ticket, and the first 1,000 fans each day will be given various souvenirs. The practice campus will be open to the public with tickets from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Here is the full training camp schedule: