Charles Tillman has been a steady performer for the Bears throughout his career. With the high emphasis Coach Lovie Smith puts on turnovers, Tillman has been a great fit for their Tampa 2 defense. He's is a veteran team leader, he's a high character guy, and he's clearly the best cornerback on the roster. Losing him, or having his play slip (no pun intended), could be devastating to the secondary. And that's why he's checking in at #7 in the 10 Most Important Bears for 2011.
This is the first time I've included Tillman in this series, and I'm doing so because I don't believe the Bears will go out and sign a free agent corner. Even though the Bears moved Tillman to the right side, he's still clearly their top cover guy. They still, on occasion, will move him around if they're playing a tough physical wide out. Peanut will have one corner position locked down, but I expect 3 guys - Josh Moore, Zack Bowman, and Tim Jennings - to battle it out for the other spot.
The Bears need the steady influence that Tillman brings to the secondary, but more importantly they'll need him to take the ball away. If the front four can take a step up in play (like we all hope they will) the opportunities for the DB's will increase. Quarterbacks making rushed throws is a very good thing.
The nine year veteran has missed only 6 games in the last 6 years. The Bears rely on his great run support, his heady zone play, the occasional man to man assignment, and his takeaway prowess.
Here's the list so far, just click for the popable link: