"Well, Brian was the Rookie of the Year last year on defense and with the A-Train this year that doesn't happen very often," said Dick Jauron.
Chicago is the first team since the 1986-87 Dolphins (linebacker John Offerdahl in 1986 and running back Troy Stradford in 1987) to have back-to-back Rookie of the Year honorees.
Urlacher, who is the most accomplished of the group with Pro Bowl appearances in his first two seasons in the league, has quickly been compared to other great Bear linebackers like Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus. Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache said Urlacher has the potential to be a once in a lifetime player.
"Brian's a phenomenal player," said Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache. "Brian's not only a guy that's rare - there won't be another Brian Urlacher for another 10-15 years in all probability. Those guys come along few and far between. It just happens that he and Ray Lewis are in the league at one time, but I look at Brian Urlacher as a Reggie White-type player, a guy that if he stays healthy is going to be a Hall of Fame type player at some point in time."
Urlacher is a new breed of linebacker. He has the size of Butkus and smarts of Singletary. He led in the team in tackles (148) tied for second with three interceptions and was third in sacks (6). He returned a fumble 90-yards for a score as well as making a touchdown reception off a fake punt. Urlacher's speed allows him to make up for any mistakes he might make often bringing down running backs and quarterbacks from behind.
Mike Brown, who Urlacher called the best player on the team, made a strong case for his first Pro Bowl appearance but is mostly known for back-to-back game winning interception returns in overtime.
However, Brown is not a two hit wonder.
He led the team with 5 interceptions and ended his second season with 86 tackles (48 solo, two touchdowns and three sacks.
While, the 1999 draft concentrated on defense with Urlacher and Brown in rounds one and two, the 2000 draft centered around talent on the offensive side of the ball.
Thomas, selected in the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft with the 38th selection overall, established a Bears rookie rushing record surpassing Rashaan Salaam's 1995 record of 1,074 yards. He finished the regular season with 1,183 yards on 278 carries (4.25 yards per carry). Thomas had four 100-yard rushing games during the 2001 season. He also set a Bears' rookie record with 188 yards rushing at Cincinnati (10/21). The 188 yards marks the eighth-highest single-game rushing total in Bears history and was the top performance by a rookie during the 2001 season.
Despite falling into the second round Jauron said Thomas was better than advertised.
"When we got him here we thought he was better than we thought and we thought he was pretty good," Jauron said. "We thought he was faster than his time let me say that, but when we got him on the field he was faster than we thought he was he had better hands than we thought he had. He just is really a good football player in every way."
David Terrell had an inconsistent rookie season, but did show flashes of being worthy of being the number eight pick of the 2001 draft. The Michigan alum finished the year with 34 receptions including four touchdowns, but wasn't satisfied with his production.
"My goal is to be one of the top guys, not just rookies, but top receivers in the whole NFL"
Jauron said that the four are not only talented, but have the maturity to be leaders for years to come.
"All of those guys deserve a great deal of credit they are the guys that do it they go out on the field and they get it done," Jauron said. "All quality people all hard working guys. You know not a lot of talk from any of them they just perform and they all are very team oriented guys."
With recent memories of first round busts Cade McNown and Curtis Enis Chicago needed to have major success in the draft in order to turn the organization around.
"I know this has been said a lot of times and it's true it's not an exact science personnel is not and certainly football is not and you don't hit on them all the time. We've had our share of misses, but it's good to have those successes and they've certainly made a big difference in our football team."