There is no denying the fact that Mike Brown will go down as one of the more feared and respected safeties in franchise history, but half a decade of recurring lower-leg injuries has proven to be too much heartbreak.
In an unpopular yet understandable move, the Monsters of the Midway announced this offseason that Brown, a defensive captain and a key leader in the locker room, will not be back for the 2009 season. While he appeared to be incredibly durable earlier in his career and played in all 64 games his first four years in the league, he's battled Achilles, ankle, calf, foot, and knee problems repeatedly since 2004 – he's missed 44 of 80 games in that time. He was healthy enough to suit up for all but one contest in '08, but he couldn't finish a few others and didn't make very many of the signature big plays Bears fans have simply come to expect from him.
The safety position is a major priority for Chicago with the NFL Draft just two months away, and team officials are apparently looking at the top of the list when it comes to potential replacements for Brown.
Chris Steuber, the NFL Draft analyst for Scout.com, is reporting William Moore of Missouri had a formal interview with the Bears last week in Indianapolis at the Scouting Combine.
Moore (6-0, 223) is a terrifically gifted athlete, taking his game to the next level as a junior after flip-flopping back and forth between free and strong safety earlier in his Tigers career. He seems to be a perfect fit for the Cover-2 scheme, as he is fast enough to play center field in the passing game and also physical enough to lay the wood in support of the run. His tackling technique could use a little work and he tends to gamble too often trying to make a big play, but he has a nose for the ball and is capable of turning a takeaway into six points.
Many scouts believe there isn't a safety in this draft worthy of a pick in Round 1 since Taylor Mays decided to return to USC for his senior year, although that could elevate Moore's stock and get him near the top of the second round.
The odds of Moore still being on the board when the Bears pick at No. 49 in Round 2 are long, but they're not unreasonable.
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John Crist is the Publisher of Bear Report and a member of the Professional Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.