-- Kellen Maicher, Columbus, Ohio
is 25. He is a former college running back who still is learning to play the three-technique position. In his first full year as a starter in 2011, he had seven sacks. Only two defensive tackles in the
and Tom Kelly of the
, had more. And each had one half sack more than Melton. As good as Harris was, he had more than seven sacks once in his career (in 2007 he had eight). The Bears will do just fine with Melton, who should only improve. That does not necessarily mean they should ignore an interior pass rusher who they think can be better. But it does mean they need not prioritize tackle over end. The Bears do not have a third defensive end who is proven, and both of their starters are on the wrong side of 30. Defensive end is an area of critical need. Defensive tackle is not.
-- Bill Dukenfield, Philadelphia
I would take Mercilus in a heartbeat. He fills the Bears' most pressing need. He is a perfect fit for the system. And he is a higher-rated prospect than
or Kirkpatrick, according to the front office men I have spoken with.
-- Mike, Lake Forest
I would have no qualms about selecting Kuechly in the scenario you describe, Mike. He is the best linebacker in the draft and a player who should play for a decade. He could be a star in Lovie Smith's system, and he would make the defense better immediately. The Bears needs some youth at the linebacker position. And Kuechly has enough versatility that he can start out as a strong side linebacker and eventually move to middle to replace Urlacher, or eventually move to the weak side to replace
-- Joe, West Jordan, Utah
I think 19 is too high for Hill. I get what you are saying. He has more potential than any receiver in the draft. But there also is a chance he could be a major bust. Given the fact that he has not produced much and he has not done the things an NFL wide receiver will be asked to do, he is too much of an unknown to be chosen that high. With the 19th pick in the first round, you don't want to completely whiff. You want to make a pick that is somewhat safe. The time to take big risks comes later in the draft, ideally in the third round, but in the case of Hill I would say the second round.
-- Stephen Z, Los Angeles
One of the advantages of having a coach like Tice is he can develop offensive linemen. He has done it in the past and is trying to do it presently with
and others. I would think the Bears are likely to find another developmental offensive lineman in this draft for Tice to work with. You have to be careful about thinking you can create a left tackle, however. A left tackle needs a certain degree of athleticism to go with the appropriate size. You don't often find those players anywhere other than early in the draft. Webb was an aberration. He has everything it takes to play the position. He just needs to put it all together.
-- Greg Foltz, La Grange
If the Bears had lost to the Vikings, they would have moved up six spots in the draft to the 13th slot in the first round. They would have jumped ahead of the
, Raiders and
-- K. Butler, Chicago
I don't think a Forte trade is likely, but I wouldn't completely rule it out. The problem with trading Forte is the same problem with signing him: It's going to take a lot of money. The Bears can't trade Forte while he is unsigned, so they would have to sign him first. They would have to find a trading partner that is willing to make Forte one of the highest paid backs in the game, and give up multiple draft picks. The chances of that happening are not good, but if someone offered, the Bears would be foolish not to consider it.
I'm a big fan of Forte's. Why does the new regime continue to show no respect for a very good back? I want to see him receive what he has earned in a long term deal. Why are they dragging this out?
-- Bob, Trinity, Fla.
You are assuming the Bears are being unreasonable. That's an assumption no outsider can make because we are not privy to the particulars of the negotiations. Perhaps the Bears are being unreasonable. Perhaps Forte is. The Bears believe they have shown plenty of respect to Forte. Forte clearly disagrees. It's a difference of opinion.
Now that Lance Briggs has a contract, will the Bears talk to Forte? If I recall correctly, back in the day teams could talk directly to the athletes if contract talks got tough. Can they do that today and get a deal done?
-- Terry Berg, Goshen, Ind.
The Bears could talk directly to Forte if Forte would be willing to negotiate in such a manner. It is Forte's decision who represents him in contract talks. There are some players who don't even have an agent. It is not uncommon for teams to try to appeal directly to a player if they feel the agent is being a hindrance in negotiations.
-- Jim K., Mount Prospect
I think Angelo has been unfairly blamed for a lot of things. I agree that he put together a pretty good team. It was a team that was in the
in 2011, and was poised to get back there this year before the injury plague hit. It's one of the reasons I did not agree with his dismissal. You make a lot of good points about his acquisitions. He also was an effective leader and a loyal employee.
-- Rev. John L. Bush, Flat Rock, MI
If other teams were giving rewards for injury opposing players, a certain ginger-haired commissioner would like very much to know about it. There were likely many instances where players were contributing to a pool that would reward individuals for big plays and big hits. The difference in New Orleans is the Saints defensive coordinator was apparently running the pool. And he was offering rewards for injuring players. It's possible this happened on another team or two, but I can't believe it was widespread.