While the Bears' greatest area of need remains the offensive line, no one should be surprised if they target the defensive line with their first-round pick (29th overall).
With defensive tackle Tommie Harris cut on Monday and nose tackle Anthony Adams eligible for free agency, reinforcements on defense are needed. Since taking over as the Bears’ draft day decision maker in 2002, G.M. Jerry Angelo has used his top pick on a defensive lineman three times and drafted 14 in nine years.
There are an abundance of talented defensive ends available this year, and as many as seven could be drafted in the first round. But, with Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije both coming off excellent seasons, the Bears are more likely to look for tackles than ends.
Pro Football Weekly's latest mock draft has the Bears taking Illinois defensive tackle Corey Liuget, and they'd probably be thrilled if he were still on the board, but that's questionable. The 6-foot-3, 300-pound Liuget is a similar player to Harris when he came out of Oklahoma. But Liuget is a notch below Alabama's Marcell Dareus and Auburns' Nick Fairley, who are considered the top two tackles in the draft and could both be selected in the top five overall picks.
Another interesting defensive tackle prospect is Oregon State's Stephen Paea, who created some major buzz when he set the all-time Scouting Combine record last weekend by cranking out 49 reps of 225 pounds in the bench press. Paea is freakishly strong, but he's still somewhat lacking in instincts, even though he was a three-year starter at OSU after a year at Snow Junior College in Utah.
The 6-foot-1, 306-pound Paea played just one year of high school football after emigrating just before his 17th birthday from Tonga, where he played rugby and dreamed of becoming a professional in that sport.
With his size and strength, Paea could play in Harris’ former three-technique spot and also at nose tackle in the Bears’ scheme.