Friday, April 23, 2010

Lucky Bears hit the target with safety Major Wright

The Bears put all their eggs in four baskets, stubbornly holding out hope that one of the players they targeted would be available when they made their first selection in the NFL draft.
And at the top of the third round, as their pick slowly approached, other teams eliminated their defensive-back options.
''Certainly a long two days,'' Bears general manager Jerry Angelo said. ''He was the last one there. That was a bit of luck.''
Angelo said the decision between a cornerback and a safety was a coin toss, and three cornerbacks (Jerome Murphy of South Florida, Amari Spivey of Iowa and Myron Lewis of Vanderbilt) were taken consecutively to start the third round.
Then the Green Bay Packers -- certainly knowing the Bears' needs -- secured a player they coveted. The Packers traded up to the seventh pick in the third round and selected Georgia Tech safety Morgan Burnett.
Four picks later, the Bears quickly announced Florida safety Major Wright as their choice -- the last of the four they targeted. But the New York Giants added more intrigue by picking another big-name safety, Chad Jones of LSU, with the next pick.
''We were hoping that [Wright] would be there,'' Bears coach Lovie Smith said. ''There was a run on defensive backs right before we made our pick, but again, you just do your homework and [hope] that you get a bit of luck -- which we did -- and you are able to get your guy.''

The Bears already have a glut of veteran safeties (five to be exact) on the roster, and Smith and Angelo downplayed any expectation that Wright could start. But Wright is, after all, their top pick, and Angelo and Smith raved about the young player's character and characteristics: his speed (4.48 in the 40-yard dash), his versatility and, potentially, his leadership.
Florida coach Urban Meyer once said Wright had ''a little bit of the [Tim] Tebow effect on defense.''''Major looks the part of a football player, and he has a locker-room personality that draws teammates and others to him,'' Meyer said in a statement Friday. ''He will contribute at the next level because he's a versatile player who will be a valued teammate.''
Except when he smashes into them.
''I get hit by Major Wright in practice all the time,'' cornerback Joe Haden said in 2008. ''He doesn't try to. He just blows up the receiver, and I'll be in the way.''
Wright set the tone in the national championship game against Oklahoma, breaking up a long sideline pass with an eye-opening hit.
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said Wright was ''undervalued'' and may project as a better pro than college player.
''I think they're going to like him in Chicago,'' Mayock said.
But his play didn't ascend with the Gators, managing 32 tackles and three interceptions this past season.
In addition, there have been questions about his coverage skills and consistency as a tackler.
When asked why he left after his junior year, Wright danced around the question. But he did enough to impress Bears defensive backs coach Jon Hoke during a private workout last week in Gainesville, Fla.
Asked if he wants to start, Wright provided a diplomatic answer, ''I'm just looking to come in and work my butt off for the coaches. Wherever they need me at, I'm happy to play.''
And while the Bears addressed their greatest need, Angelo made clear they still have big plans for their remaining four picks. In fact, he said the Bears shied away from moving up.
''I don't treat any of these picks as throwaway picks,'' he said. ''It would have probably cost us a fifth-round pick. I like the possibilities of what the fifth round will bring us.''
Angelo said the remaining picks might be devoted mainly to the defense, although he admitted there's one offensive lineman they have their eye on. And while they may have a need at cornerback, Angelo emphasized that the Bears could still add a pass-rushing defensive end.
Angelo playfully said observers may think, ''You got a hole in your head'' if the Bears beef up that position again.
'''Why would you bring another guy in?''' he rhetorically asked himself. ''The focus will be on the pass rush. He's got to have pass-rush traits. We're not looking for a run-stopper.''But after picking up Wright, the Bears have some options.