INDIANAPOLIS - This year's draft is loaded with super-talented offensive tackles, but Vanderbilt's Thomas Welch isn't one of them.
The former tight end is still learning the position and probably won't be drafted until the sixth or seventh round at best. He'll be a project for any team, but Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine, he said his transition to the NFL would be smoother with the Bears, considering they have a roster peppered with former Commodores. Quarterback Jay Cutler, wide receiver Earl Bennett, cornerback D.J. Moore, offensive tackle Chris Williams and linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer all played for Vandy. Bennett, Moore and Williams were all teammates of Welch's.
"That would be very exciting," Welch said of a possible reunion in Chicago. "Obviously I'd be with a familiar group of guys that I've played with. I've met (Bears area scout) Rex Hogan numerous times because he lives in Nashville and his wife works at Vanderbilt."
Welch is closest with Williams because they play the same position and are just a year apart.
"We train together," Welch said. "We played golf last week. He tells me, 'You've got to be ready every play. You can't take any plays off.' "
Welch has also frequently seen Cutler on campus.
"He's around the facility (at Vanderbilt) just as much as Chris is," Welch said. "He always rolls around in his 'G-Wagon,' (Mercedes-Benz G-Class luxury SUV), so you can't miss him."
Waiting in vain: Mike Singletary, the 49ers' head coach and former Bears middle linebacker, isn't pleased that former teammate Richard Dent failed again this year to win the necessary votes to join him in the Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
"(It's) my same reaction every year," Singletary said at the Combine. "How do you have one of the greatest defenses of all time and have just two guys off that defense (Singletary and defensive tackle Dan Hampton) in the Hall of Fame? I don't make any bones about it. Once again, I think the film speaks for itself. I'm always happy for the guys who get in. I'm never going to sit back and say, 'Well, that guy shouldn't have made it.' I just know that Richard is a guy who should be there. But hopefully at some point in time, it'll happen."
Dent had 1241/2 of his 1371/2 career sacks as a Bear, which is a franchise record, including back-to-back seasons of 171/2 and 17 sacks in 1984 and '85.
Valuable lesson: Illinois' Jon Asamoah, a native of south suburban Park Forest, is one of the best guards in this year's draft. The Rich East High School grad has grown to 6-feet-4 and 300 pounds, but he didn't get that big by eating anything he wanted. He learned a valuable lesson from his father.
"My dad had diabetes since he was about my age, and he didn't take care of it until one day, when I was in third grade," Asamoah said. "He had a big episode and hasn't been able to work ever since. He had a kidney transplant last spring.
"It taught me about taking care of your body. We don't have sweets around the house. I'm big, but it wasn't because of sweets. I must just eat a lot."