Next in the multi-part draft breakdown are the defensive tackles. I watch a ton of college football, but I'm not Mel Kiper Jr., so all of these are up for discussion.
The Bears do not need a DT. People may argue why we should get a DT, but it's not a glaring hole or need as compared to other positions. I thought Anthony Adams and Marcus Harrison did a decent job last year, but Tommie Harris and the rest of the DT's get to show their worth this year. So keep faith, those of you who want another DT. You may get your wish next year.
The DT talent pool isn't very deep this year. However, I've listed who I think are the top five prospects.
(Disclaimer: I believe Raji is the #1 DT of this class. Honestly, the rest are very close to each other. Each comes with their own risks and their own strong suits. . .just depends on what scheme or intangibles a team is looking for)
Helmet tip to GeauxBears for the pictures.
B.J. Raji, Senior, Boston College
Height: 6'1" ½ Weight: 337 lbs.
Combine: 5.08 (40); 33 reps (bench)
Pros: For a man of his size, possesses great speed....spin move is effective; must develop it more....solid instincts at the line....dominant run stopper and an effective pass rusher.
Cons: Has some character concerns (ejected in 2006 against Central Michigan for throwing punch; academically ineligible in 2007; some rumors of staying eligible in '08)....does not use his hands well; shedding blocks is a problem....his only real pass-rush move is straight power; must develop some others....wears down late in games and becomes wildly inconsistent.
Bottom line: Raji looked to be a mid-to-late 1st round selection until the Senior Bowl. He absolutely dominated the guards and centers there. Seriously. Take a look. When he doesn't take plays off, he's a great DT.
Projected round: Top-10 selection
Ron Brace, Senior, Boston College
Height: 6'3" Weight: 330 lbs.
Combine: 5.44 (40); 32 reps (bench)
Pros: Will be able to contribute right away....good build....initial quickness is superb....uses hands well....instincts are above-average....fundamentals are solid; minor tweaking is needed.
Cons: Durability is another question with Brace; no major injuries, but struggled through 2008 with some minor nagging injuries....sometimes plays too narrow.
Bottom line: Brace, the former teammate of B.J. Raji, will have a solid NFL career. He's a hard worker and someone who doesn't give up on plays easily. Like I say below, I have Brace ahead of Peria Jerry due to Jerry's major durability questions.
Projected round: 2nd round
Peria Jerry, Senior, Mississippi
Height: 6'1" ¾ Weight: 299 lbs.
Pros: Started at defensive end, tackle, and NG during his time at Mississippi....great initial quickness and top-end speed....terrific upper-body strength....no character issues.
Cons: Durability is a huge question mark....stamina is below-average....lacks a mean streak....plays best when he's changing passing lanes; not a sack machine....plays with a narrow base, which means he gets pushed around when run against.
Bottom line: He will get better with NFL coaching, but two things bother me about Jerry: 1) His durability and 2) he would not be a good fit with the Bears. He would get eaten alive in a gap-control scheme and he cannot put consistent pressure on the QB. He will be drafted before Brace, but his durability questions and inconsistentcy on the field led me to drop Jerry down.
Projected round: Late 1st - early 2nd
Fili Moala, Senior, USC
Height: 6'4" Weight: 305 lbs.
Combine: 5.04 (40); 25 reps (bench)
Pros: No durability problems....played both DT and NG....gets his hands up when he can't get to the QB....average top-end speed....excellent initial burst and changes directions easily....no character issues.
Cons: Must hit an NFL weight room....plays with his hands too high, which leads him to lose the battle at the point of attack.
Bottom line: I really like Moala. He's a solid prospect who just needs some coaching on fundamentals and needs to get some more bulk if he wants to be a full-time lineman. If the Bears feel the need to pick up a DT, he's our guy.
Projected round: Late 2nd - early 3rd
Evander "Ziggy" Hood, Senior, Missouri
Height: 6'2" 7/8 Weight: 300 lbs.
Combine: 4.88 (40); 34 reps (bench)
Pros: Never quits on a play....excellent top-end speed and agility....uses his hands well....no character concerns....good height/weight....very explosive off the line....is a team leader with good work ethic.
Cons: Plays too high at times, which leaves him to get out-leveraged at times....average production during college....minor durability concerns (broken foot in 2006).
Bottom line: He's a jack-of-all-trades player: He does a lot of things well, but nothing excellent. He kept his nose clean at Mizzou and possesses a solid skill set on the field. Will he be an difference maker like Albert Haynesworth or Tommie Harris pre-payday? No. Will he be a solid contributor on an NFL team? Yes.
Projected round: Mid 2nd - mid 3rd