An Early Look at the 2012 Depth Chart – Defense

Part 1 Of this post covered the projected depth chart on the offensive side of the ball, as the roster stands presently; now we will look at the defensive side of the ball. Again, keep in mind that some holes can still be filled via Free Agency, once the lockout is lifted.
Defensive End –
1) Julius Peppers
2) Israel Idonije

3) Corey Wootton
4) Nick Reed
Peppers was exactly what the Bears’ defense needed last season; being that guy on the defensive line that the other team has to account for on every play. He made game-changing plays in the 1st Detroit game and the Eagles game; and finished the season with 8 sacks, despite getting held on nearly every single play. Idonije had a great season in his first year moving from tackle to end; racking up 8 sacks. I still believe that if the Bears had seen a defensive end they really wanted in the first round; they would have no problem moving Izzy back to the 3-technique tackle. But since we drafted a DT, Izzy will stay at end. Wootton came on strong at the end of the season, and should be the top backup at both end spots. Nick Reed was claimed from the Seahawks, and could be an interesting addition as a backup end. Here is some video of Reed going against the Chargers’ Marcus McNeill. He shows good quickness in getting into the backfield.

Defensive Tackle –
1) Matt Toeaina
2) Henry Melton

3) Stephen Paea
4) Marcus Harrison
5) Tank Tyler
Anthony Adams is a Free Agent, and may or may not be re-signed. Matt Toeaina had an okay season sharing starting duties with Tommie Harris; but is more of a hustle guy and better suited to be a 3rd DT in a rotation. Reports have Melton as bulking up to 290 pounds to switch to the 3-technique DT, and if he can maintain his quickness at that weight, could be a stud. Stephen Paea was drafted to line up on the nose at the other tackle. If the knee injury suffered this post-season is not serious, then he might start from Day one. Some experts had Paea as the 3rd-rated DT in the draft; behind Dareus and Fairley. Its hard to tell what to make of Marcus Harrison. His time may be up here. Tank Tyler is a one-time 3rd-round draft pick of the Cheifs, and has also spent time with the Panthers. Here are some highlights that include Tyler in college. He has some tools; but looks now to be fighting for a roster spot with Harrison.

Linebackers –
WLB) Lance Briggs
MLB) Brian Urlacher
SLB) J.T. Thomas

LB) Patrick Trahan
LB) Chris Johnson
This is a position that could change quite a bit in the next 2-3 months. As of now, the only LBs under contract for 2011-2012 are Briggs, Urlacher, Thomas, and 2 unknowns—Patrick Trahan and Chris Johnson. Nick Roach, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Brian Iwuh and Rod Wilson are all free agents, and Hunter Hillenmeyer was let go. I wouldn’t be surprised if 2 of those 4 are re-signed; if I had to guess, I would say Roach and Iwuh, because of their value on special teams. I scoured the internet for information on Trahan and Johnson; all I could find was some obscure scouting reports. So not real sure what to make of this position.

Cornerbacks –
1) Charles Tillman
2) Tim Jennings

3) DJ Moore
4) Zack Bowman
5) Josh Moore
6) KJ Gerard
Corey Graham is the only CB on the roster who us a free agent; and he really did not spend much time on the field other than on special teams. I could see the Bears re-signing him, if he does not get the interest from other teams that he obviously anticipates he will get. Zack Bowman lost his starting job for good in Week 2 versus the Cowboys to Tim Jennings. Jennings is good, but he is smallish and can get abused if he has to start for 16 games. DJ Moore had a solid year as the nickleback, but also is probably too small to start full-time. Josh Moore spent the season on the inactive list for almost all of the games, as he tries to get stronger; but he did impress me with his closing speed and footwork last preseason. Charles Tillman stayed healthy for the first time in a long time, and had maybe the best season of his career. KJ Gerard spent the entire season on our practice squad. He has good size (6-1, 192) and speed (4.49-40), but other than that, there is not enough information on the web about him to consider him anything more than a training camp body. Overall, I feel like we can get by with this group; but I wouldn’t be terribly upset if we upgraded during Free Agency. I cannot see the Bears shelling out the money for All-Pro CB Nnamdi Asumoguha; but I could see us making a run at Carlos Rogers of the Redskins or Jonathan Joseph of the Bengals, should they be allowed to test Free Agency.

Safety –
1) Chris Harris
2) Major Wright

3) Chris Conte
4) Craig Steltz
Chris Harris played well in his return to the Bears, making big plays and solidifying the back half of our defense. Danieal Manning had his best season as a Bear, but he is a free agent after rejecting the Bears’ extension. Major Wright was hurt most of the season, and looked quite lost when he was in there; hopefully a full offseason will help him in 2012. Chris Conte was drafted to be the long-term answer at Free Safety. He has the range that the other 3 safeties on our roster all lack; how he holds up against the physical, greuling nature of the safety position in the NFL after spending just one year there in college remains to be seen. Craig Steltz can not seem to get any playing time other than on special teams. I think the Bears feel much better about the safety position than most experts or fans do at this point. It might not be a bad idea to go after a free agent, like Michael Huff or OJ Atogwe, once Free Agency begins.

Punter –
1) Richmond McGee

Brad Maynard is a free agent, after having his worst year statistically as a punter. It would not surprise me if the Bears re-signed him for insurance; it would not surprise me if the Bears just go with McGee.

2 responses

  1. johnnyharvard

    I think this is pretty much a good guess for right now as we stand, but if we want the Bears to take the next step we’d better hope this changes in both new personnel acquisitions, and some of the rookies steppin’ up and beating out the lesser talented incumbents.

    May 12, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    • thanks…and yeah—i think we still have to go out and get a red-zone, short-yardage-type possession WR…and SLB worries me, if Pisa and Nick Roach decide to both walk.

      May 13, 2011 at 7:07 am

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