With the 75th-overall selection in Round 3 of the 2010 NFL Draft, the Monsters of the Midway took Florida safety Major Wright.
While the addition of free-agent pass rusher Julius Peppers will inevitably help the defensive backs because they won't have to cover receivers as long, the Bears have had trouble at both safety positions for way too long now. Since coach Lovie Smith took the reigns in 2004, he has made 40 lineup changes combined at strong and free safety, and neither spot has a definite starter heading into the 2010 campaign. Recent draft picks Kevin Payne and Al Afalava will be in the mix at strong safety, as could the versatile-but-vexing Danieal Manning, but a pure free safety capable of playing center field has been lacking for quite some time.
According to Scout.com NFL Draft analyst Chris Steuber, Wright, one of his four-star prospects, "has good size and speed and the ball skills to compete with any other safety in the draft not named Eric Berry (Tennessee) or Earl Thomas (Texas)."
But for an insider's perspective on the 6-0, 206-pound Wright and what he might bring to the Midway Monsters on defense, BearReport.com consulted with Bob Redman, an insider for FightinGators.com:
Strengths: He'll flat knock your block off. Wright loves to hit, almost to a point where it takes away from him getting the turnover. Anyone that watched the 2008 season BCS Championship Game between Florida and Oklahoma should remember the big hit in the first series that really set the tone for the Gator defense and held the nation's most high-flying offense to only 14 points on the day. That was the type of message Wright can deliver. He has great instincts and surprising speed and really wasn't put in the greatest position sometimes to make a ton of plays, because of the other star players in front of him. He continually got better during his Gators career.
Weaknesses: Wright knows where the ball is going, but again, it seems he would rather make the hit than the interception. I would have liked to see him play closer to the line of scrimmage than he did, but that was more likely a coaching call and in the scheme of the defense than his fault.
Redman Says: It will be hard for him to come in and start right away, and I will say he was faster at the combine than many Gators expected him to run. He had an unenviable task of following maybe the Gators' best free safety in history when Reggie Nelson left, and he isn't really the same kind of player. I would say that Wright plays with a lot more intelligence. Wright is tough as nails, will play through injury and has done so many times. One thing for sure is he will be very popular in the locker room and a team leader. Wright has always been a very positive force for the Gators, whether on or off the field. He knows how to keep things loose and at the right time help get his teammates focused.
JC's Take: The fact that Wright sounds like a vocal player, both on and off the field, is a welcome addition to a Chicago secondary missing some leadership since Mike Brown's body started to fall apart.
Wright will have some adjustments to make when he arrives in the Windy City, as the Gators had him playing a lot of Cover 1, meaning he was a single-high safety, played 20-25 yards off the line of scrimmage and mainly responsible for taking away the deep ball. The Bears do play Cover 1 when they put eight men in the box and on most of their blitz calls, but Cover 2 is different and he'll be needed much closer to the action to help in run support. Being a big hitter is nice and all, but if you're more heat-seeking missile than secure tackler, you're not going to be very effective (see Payne, Kevin).
There are a lot of things to like about the selection, although Redman's comment that Wright would rather knock the receiver into next week than pick off the pass is a bit of a concern for a D designed to force turnovers.
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Scout's Analysis: S Major Wright
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