Sep 9, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Henry Melton (69) celebrates a sack during the second half against the Indianapolis Colts at Soldier Field. The Bears won 41-21. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Countdown to Kickoff... Henry Melton Days Away from Chicago Bears Season Opener

I decided to do a countdown to the Chicago Bears season opener on September 8th versus the Cincinnati Bengals.  Thanks to one of my Twitter followers, I decided to combine the countdown with a roster preview of sorts.

We’re Henry Melton days away from kickoff.  That’s 69 days to the uneducated.  It’s only fitting that as we turn the calendar to July, our Chicago Bears roster preview turns to their franchise player.  The Bears and Melton have two weeks  to agree to terms on a contract extension or else Melton will play the 2013 season under the $8+ million dollar deal.  Let’s take a closer look at how we got to this point with Melton and what to expect for 2013.

Henry Melton is one of those once in a half dozen drafts type of picks.  The Bears drafted him in the fourth round of the 2009 draft out of Texas.  Melton started out as a running back at Texas, but he added size and strength over his time there and he eventually moved into a defensive lineman.

With the Bears, he switched between defensive end and defensive tackle until he finally settled into the 3-technique defensive tackle spot that the Bears desperately needed in Lovie Smith’s Cover-2 defense.  Melton has appeared in 45 games over the last three seasons, starting 29 of them.  In that span, he’s racked up 83 tackles and 15.5 sacks with 3 forced fumbles.   Last season, Melton earned himself a trip to the Pro Bowl following a 6 sack, 32 tackle performance.  They’ll send anyone to Hawaii these days.

While I think Melton has certainly come on in the last couple of seasons, I don’t think he’s reached his full potential and I don’t think he’s a “franchise player” beyond the financial designation that teams use nowadays to figure out what they’ll do with players.  The biggest reason is Melton’s lack of consistency.  He will show flashes of dominance but disappear for games at a time.

It will be really interesting to see how the Bears move forward with Melton.  Make no mistake about it, Melton is a key piece for the 2013 Bears.  They are running a bit thin at the DT position and will rely on Melton heavily.  If they were to agree to a contract extension with Melton before the July 15th deadline, it would free up some cap space and give them some more flexibility, but at the same time they will be committing long term to a guy who hasn’t put up monster stats.

Some notable Bears wearing #69 include offensive linemen Fred Miller (I wonder if he’s on Olin Kreutz’s Christmas Card list), Mike Gandy and old schooler Revie Sorey.

We’re 69 days from kickoff.  Are you ready???

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