As the NFL Draft approaches, Grizzly Detail is counting down the Top 30 draft picks in Chicago Bears history. In order to qualify for this list, a player must have worn a Bears uniform for at least five seasons (sorry Rosevelt Colvin and Wilber Marshall), and players who were selected in lower rounds of the draft will have an advantage in this countdown.
We went linebacker with our number eight selection, and we head back to that position again as Brian Urlacher checks in at the number seven slot in our countdown.
Drafted out of the University of New Mexico with the ninth overall pick in the 2000 NFL Draft, Urlacher quickly grabbed a spot in the pantheon of great Bears middle linebackers. During his 13-year NFL career, Urlacher started 180 games, making 1052 tackles and assisting on 306 more. He was named to the Pro Bowl eight times over that span, and was a first-team All-Pro selection four times. His exit from the Bears was contentious, but there isn’t a question that he is one of the best players to ever don a Bears uniform.
Urlacher immediately came into the league and made an impact in his first season, starting 14 games and racking up eight sacks, 101 tackles, and two interceptions. The next season, Urlacher had six more sacks and the first of four career touchdowns. The Bears also made their first playoff appearance of Urlacher’s career in that season, the first of four times that the linebacker would help lead the Bears to the postseason.
Perhaps the most impressive season of Urlacher’s career came during the 2010 season. A year after missing the entire season with an injury he suffered in the first quarter of the first game of the 2009 campaign, Urlacher was back to his old tricks, racking up 97 tackles and four sacks as the Bears made it all the way to the NFC Championship game.
Currently, Urlacher is working as an analyst for Fox Sports 1, and routinely finds his way into the news for statements he makes about the Bears, including their handling of Devin Hester’s exit from the team earlier this year.
When the history books are revised for this era of football, Urlacher may not get the same amount of love as Dick Butkus and Mike Singletary have, but he definitely deserves the acclaim. Under the leadership of Urlacher and Lovie Smith, the Bears’ defense became one of the most feared groups in the league, and the 2006 season was a testament to their skill and prowess. They nearly won the Super Bowl that year with a subpar quarterback at the helm, and even though they weren’t successful, it still showed just what a crucial player Urlacher was to this team during his tenure.