For the 3rd straight year I'll be bringing you my thoughts on who the ten most important Chicago Bears are for the upcoming season. On field impact, leadership, and position depth are a few things I'll think about when constructing my list, but not the only things. These ten Bears will be who I feel will need to contribute most towards the team's success in 2011. Leading off my list at No. 10, is the projected starter at three technique defensive tackle, the newly hulked up Henry Melton.
With Tommie Harris no longer on the roster, Bears fans can stop hoping Harris will regain his Pro Bowl form and we can turn our attention to hoping Melton can keep his quickness along with his new strength and provide the push up the middle. The 3 Tech DT is a critical piece of the Tampa 2 base defense, and it's been a few years since the Bears had someone at that position that was able to draw a double team. If Henry Melton can fulfill the promise he's shown, the Bears defense will be even tougher in '11. Last week Yahoo Sports had an article looking at the most likely NFC North players to have break out seasons, and Melton was the Bear mentioned.
He reportedly has added about 30 pounds of muscle this offseason in preparation for the role, and he apparently is weighing in at a little less than 300 pounds (he was listed at 260 pounds last season). Because of the lockout, it remains to be seen whether the added bulk has cost Melton any speed or explosiveness on the practice field, but head coach Lovie Smith and GM Jerry Angelo have been speaking highly of Melton all offseason, and they seem confident that he's in for a big campaign. Melton, who began his college career as a running back, showed flashes in '10 as a situational pass rusher. If the added muscle doesn't cost him any of the great burst he has showed, Melton could become the Bears' top player on the interior.
Since this is my list, I reserve the right to switch #10 to Stephen Paea if Paea looks to be the starter at the 3 Tech DT spot. Last year the Bears received average play at the position and had an above average defense, if this spot is figured out, the Bears can get back to some scary good play on D.