Good things come in small packages

With the final pick of the 2000 NFL draft, the Chicago Bears chose Mike Green, a strong safety out of Northwestern State. For the second straight year the Bears made the final pick in the NFL draft, traditionally the last pick in the draft is coined "Mr. Irrelevant."

That is exactly what Green was as a rookie heading into the 2000 training camp. Just barely making the Bears roster in 2000, Green did not make it onto the playing field until game three versus the New York Giants. In total, Green played limited time on special teams in seven of the Bears sixteen games that year. Green finished the season with three tackles in seven games, all of which were made on special teams.

Heading into the 2001 season, Mike Green was not a lock to even make the Bears roster. He started at the bottom of the depth charts among Bears safeties. By the middle of the season though, he had his breakout game on a Sunday night primetime game versus Randy Moss, Cris Carter and the Minnesota Vikings. Under the spotlight Green shined bright, posting a career high ten tackles. He went on to finish the season as the Bears leading tackler among non-starters, and also recorded three quarterback sacks.

A long way away from the status of "Mr. Irrelevant" Green is now the Bears starting strong safety, after replacing Tony Parrish who went to San Francisco via free agency. Currently, Mike Green is near the top of the Bears tackles list, playing well at the strong safety position. As the former "Mr. Irrelevant" of 2000 Green has come a long way and continues to prove to the other 30 teams drafting that year that he should not have been so irrelevant to them.

Bears starting defensive tackle Alfonso Boone's NFL story is very similar to Mike Green's. While Green was the 254th and final pick in 2000, the Detroit Lions selected Alfonso Boone with the 253rd pick in the 2000 draft; Boone was runner-up in the 2000 "Mr. Irrelevant." The Lions took DT Alfonso Boone out of Mt. San Antonio JC, Boone was cut during training camp by the Lions, but was resigned to be a part of their five-man practice squad. Boone spent most of the 2000 season on the Lions practice squad before being signed to the Bears active on November 21st, 2000. He was inactive for the final five games.

In 2001, after being listed as inactive in Chicago's first four games, he appeared in eleven of their final twelve games of the 2001 season. Playing as a reserve behind pro-bowl defensive tackle, Boone contributed in 2001 with eleven tackles, one fumble recovery, and two sacks without starting in one game all year.

Currently, Boone is the starting defensive tackle alongside Keith Traylor; Boone took over after Ted Washington suffered a likely season ending ankle injury versus the Atlanta Falcons. Boone has started the every game since Washington's absence, contributing in the efforts of the defense.

So it's 2002 now, and the last two choices in the 2000 NFL draft are productive starters for the one of the more respected and feared defenses in the NFL. Both players took the NFL back road, paid their dues, and are now key components in the Bears defensive schemes. Boone was ensured a place with the Bears for coming seasons, as he signed a five-year contract extension, an extension for Green may come towards the end of this season as well.

Other current Bears chosen in the 2000 NFL draft include MLB Brian Urlacher, FS Mike Brown, and Reggie Austin.

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