CHICAGO - NOVEMBER 14: Members of the Chicago Bear defense including (L-R) Julius Peppers #90, Marcus Harrison #99, Matt Toeaina #75 and Israel Idonije #71 await the start of play against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on November 14, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 27-13. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Julius Peppers; Marcus Harrison; Matt Toeaina; Israel Idonije
Julius Peppers and Israel Idonije made a formidable team on the ends of the Bears front four in 2010. The tackles, on the other hand, weren't so tough. In fact, you have to combine the work of Anthony Adams, Matt Toeina, Tommie Harris and Henry Melton to get more sacks than Peppers or Idonije had on their own. But considering the other needs that the Bears have, is defensive tackle a position that the Bears need to address immediately?
Yes, according to Rod Marinelli. The Bears defensive coordinator wants help for his star player.
"The best way to help Pep is if you can get an under tackle," Bears defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli said. "It's so important in our system. It's the motor that drives the train. It gets everything going. If you have an active guy inside, the offense has to be aware of where he is at all times. Then the other guys come alive."
Peppers improved the entire defense last season because opponents had to use so much manpower to stop him. With an explosive tackle on the line, even more damage can be done.
This year's draft is a good place to start, because the draft is rich with defensive line talent, and the pickings in free agency are slim. In fact, two respected mock drafts have at least two defensive linemen going in the top five. By the time the Bears get their 29th pick, there are still plenty of top players to take, like Corey Liuget, a tackle from Illinois, or Stephen Paea from Oregon State.
But is this the Bears first-round need? Improving the defensive line became more important when Tommie Harris was released, but at the same time, Harris was not a full-time starter in 2010 and they still were one of the best defenses in the league. The offensive line was a huge problem in 2010, and with players like Gabe Carimi and Derek Sherrod on the board, the O-line could be boosted by the first round.