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Safety Major White # 21 of the Florida Gators intercepts a 4th quarter pass in the end zone against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, at Davis Wade Stadium on October 24, 2009 in Starkville, Mississippi.
After waiting through two rounds of the NFL draft without a pick, the Bears selected Wright in the third round Friday night with the 75th overall pick.
"We had a great guy in the past in Mike Brown who was a big hitter, played back there well and was a quarterback back there (on defense)," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "Obviously Major has done some of those things."
The 5-foot-11, 206-pound Wright started three years for the Gators and came out for the draft as a junior. He made eight career interceptions and 165 tackles.
The Bears have been looking for a free safety to settle a secondary that slid since their Super Bowl year of 2006 to 27th against the pass in 2007, 30th in 2008 and 20th last year.
"He's got very good speed," Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. "He's going to be known for his hitting prowess. He wasn't a big interceptor in college, but he started all three years there at Florida. We know what kind of defense they play at Florida. So to come in and play right away at Florida, you've got to be a pretty special athlete, and he was."
Brown suffered numerous injuries from 2004 through 2008 and was allowed to leave in free agency. The Bears last year used 11 different safety combinations and have used 21 different free safeties during Smith's six years as head coach.
"Obviously he's got a little Mike Brown to him in terms of his tenacity," Angelo said. "But again, he's got really good speed. Mike didn't have a lot of speed coming out. He was a great football player but not the kind of speed this player has."
Angelo expects Wright to compete immediately with Josh Bullocks, Craig Steltz, Al Afalava and Kevin Payne for a starting spot at free safety.
When Wright found out the Bears had selected him, he said he "literally ran down the street and just ran out in the middle of the floor and started crying."
Wright believes in his ability to lead a defensive secondary.
"I'm very smart, I communicate on the field, I'm very physical in coverage," he said. "With me, I play within the defense, I never play outside the defense where I try to do my own thing."
The Bears had to wait so long to select a player because traded away their first pick to get Denver quarterback Jay Cutler last year and spent their second pick in a deal for defensive end Gaines Adams, who died during the offseason.
They had focused on the secondary, and Angelo said he had four defensive backs in mind who would fill their need. Then he received a few calls offering a deal up for picks, but he decided to stay at No. 75 because he thought one of the four would be there. Wright was the only one of the four who was left.
The Bears have a pick in each round Saturday.
"I'd still like to look at the defense," Angelo said. "There is an offensive lineman that we're looking at. The defense is probably where we're going to stay focused."