http://www.chicagofootball.com/2014/05/10/hub-arkush-all-new-d-line-improved/atfrc7i/ Hub Arkush: All-new D-line improved? By HUB ARKUSH - firstname.lastname@example.org - Saturday, May 10, 2014 5:32 p.m. CDT Following the completion of 2014 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears burgeoning roster included seven defensive ends, five defensive tackles and Lamarr Houston and Israel Idonije. Idonije is designated as a defensive lineman because while he specializes at left end he has played the three-technique tackle as well. Houston is labeled an end but he also slides inside on a regular basis. No more than 10 of those players, and most likely only nine will make the final roster. Has Phil Emery executed a one-year makeover of his front wall on defense to match the job he did on the offensive line a year ago? Short of an act of God, Jared Allen, Houston, Willie Young and Jeremiah Ratliff will be Bears in 2014, and if the Bears want their four best on the field, they will all start with Houston at the three-technique. Phil Emery did not use his second- and third-round draft choices on Ego Ferguson and Will Sutton to cut them, so pencil them in for this season as well. If we call Houston an end, that means the Bears most likely only carry four tackles including Ratliff and the two rookies, which would leave Stephen Paea and Nate Collins battling for just one roster spot. Since Ratliff and Ferguson can theoretically play either the nose tackle or three-technique, the Bears have the flexibility to keep either Paea who is strictly a nose tackle or Collins who is a true three-technique. Emery just re-signed Collins and remember he didn’t draft Paea, so I’m guessing Paea could be looking for work at the end of August. At D-end, we’ll watch Idonije, David Bass, Austen Lane, Tracy Robertson, Trevor Scott and Cornelius Washington all battle through training camp for the two vacant spots at end along with Allen, Young and Houston. Right now, this is a really tough race to call. If Trevor Scott can flash anywhere near the success he had rushing the passer early in his career at Oakland, he and Bass will have the inside track on the two open D-line spots. Bass has flashed just enough athleticism and speed that I’m guessing Emery would like to invest one more year in him. I suspect Idonije would claim a 10th spot if the Bears kept one more lineman because of his experience and ability to slide inside or out. So if I’m close here just how much better are the Bears up front? In the event I’ve got the new group at end correct, Allen, Houston, Young, Idnoije and Scott will be replacing Julius Peppers, Shea McClellin, Corey Wootton, Cheta Ozougwu and Washington. It’s impossible to give an edge to Allen or Peppers at this stage of their careers and I’m not at all convinced Young merits a pick over Wootton. But there is little doubt that Houston, Idonije and Scott are anything less than a marked improvement over McClellin (at end), Ozougwu and Washington. The transition at tackle will leave the Bears with Collins, Ferguson and Sutton – and Houston – replacing (potentially) Paea, Landon Cohen and Christian Tupou I love Sutton and I like Collins a lot as a backup three-technique, but I just don’t know enough about Ferguson as of yet. And projecting rookies who’ve never taken a snap in the league over veterans is hard to defend. But I do think just having a healthy Ratliff, which is what he appears to be, is a significant net gain, and if I’m right about Houston spending the bulk of his time at the three-technique, the Bears will have a huge upgrade at tackle. Has Emery done enough on the D-line to make the kind of quantum leap over last year that the O-line made from 2012 to 2013? I’d say there’s a real chance he has.