Although I knew it to be a long shot, I held out at least a morsel of hope that the Bears would trade up into the second round to nab free safety Nate Allen from South Florida, who wound up being selected 37th overall by the Philadelphia Eagles. I felt that with as much instability as the Bears have had at that position since Mike Brown left the team, the Bears needed not only an intelligent playmaker, but a leader of the defensive backfield who could make adjustments and get guys in the right position.
As it turned out, they may have gotten their replacement for Brown, anyway, without having to give up anything for him.
The Bears selected Florida safety Major Wright with their first pick of the 2010 draft, the 75th overall pick. Wright played three seasons at Florida where he amassed 165 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles.
Every player has positives and negatives and criticisms of Wright are that he lacks top-end speed, is a bit rigid, and does not come out of breaks well — in other words, there are concerns about his coverage skills. That was an immediate red flag for me because the last thing the Bears need is another safety who winds up playing the strong position instead of free.
Wright’s positives, though, seem to outweigh any negatives he’s been saddled with. He’s an aggressive player who has a nose for the football, has good play recognition, and can help in run support. He’s also been known to blow up receivers as his college teammate can attest.
“I get hit by Major Wright in practice all the time,” Florida cornerback Joe Haden said in 2008. “He doesn’t try to. He just blows up the receiver, and I’ll be in the way.”
Reminds me a little bit of Kevin Payne. Could be interesting if Wright and Payne are on the field at the same time. The tandem could be dubbed “Major Payne.” The moniker certainly would fit with how hard they hit.
Bears coaches and Wright’s college coaches have had nothing but positive things to say about him.
“Tim Tebow did an awful lot for Florida’s team on the offensive side of the ball; I think (Florida coach) Urban Meyer will talk about Major doing some of those same things as far as being the guy that is vocal, that players look to for a little of that leadership,” Lovie Smith said.
The comparisons to Brown also came up.
“We have had a great guy in the past in Mike Brown who was a big hitter, played the pass well and was a quarterback back there,” Smith said. “Major has done some of those things.”
Vance Bedford, who was the defensive backs coach during Brown’s first five seasons with the Bears, also was quick to make the comparison.
“Major is faster and stronger than Mike Brown,” he said. “You can make the comparison with Mike Brown. The thing about Major, you have to see him on the field during the game. He makes the other guys around him better with his ability and his attitude. Mike Brown was a special guy who just couldn’t stay healthy at the end. He’s one of the best players I have ever been around.”
What made Brown so special during his career with the Bears, aside from his football instincts and the ability to put himself in the right position to make plays — everybody remembers that magical season of 2001 — was Brown’s leadership ability both on and off the field.
“Major looks the part of a football player, and he has a locker-room personality that draws teammates and others to him,” Meyer said of his former player. “He will contribute at the next level because he’s a versatile player who will be a valued teammate.”
Now, if he can play the free safety position at the next level to any degree that Brown did, the Bears may have hit the bull’s-eye.