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Best Bears pass rushers: Dent is not at the top

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Best Bears pass rushers: Dent is not at the top

Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011
Posted 4:18 p.m.
By John Mullin
CSNChicago.com

With the selection of Richard Dent in the Hall of Fame Class of 2011, the NFL electors acknowledged the accomplishments of the most destructive force on the greatest single defense in NFL history. Dan Hampton and Mike Singletary preceded Dent into the Hall but no one preceded Dent into backfields.

But was Dent the best pass rusher in franchise history?

CSNChicago.com combed fact books, available video and other sources to arrive at the top three pass rushers in the history of the NFLs charter franchise. The first two were easy. After that.

The guidelines are for pure pass rusher, not simply the best defensive linemen, although in the cases of Nos. 1-2, they also were the two best ever at the defensive end position. The evaluations also factored in the level of pass rush achieved by players also tasked with playing the run first. Many pass rushers were loosed on quarterbacks without regard for wholistic defense. Bears rushmen were not.

1. Doug Atkins

Big Man was nearly as notable in Bears lore for his antics and tweakings of Papa Bear as for that he did on the field.

But Atkins, like Dent, was the epitome of a player capable of being a dominant player in any era. Atkins was 6-8 and played between 260-280 pounds, with enough athleticism (he went to Tennessee on a basketball scholarship) to have literally hurdled a crouching New York Giants left tackle Roosevelt Brown, also in the Hall of Fame, on the way to sacking Y.A. Tittle.

Atkins was the Julius Peppers of his era; Peppers (6-7, 283) was good enough to be a reserve on the North Carolina basketball team.

NFL Network ranked Atkins No. 9 on its list of All-Time Pass Rushers (although the second half of the list approaches laughable for including Michael Strahan and Mark Gastineau and not Dent). He is No. 1 on CSNChicago.coms list of All-Time Bears Pass Rushers.

2. Richard Dent

The Colonels sack total (137.5) was only a portion of his greatness, which was not to be measured in Pro Bowls (four). He was a superb all-around force on the edge of a defense that was among the best ever against the run as well as obliterating quarterbacks.

Dent was a student of his craft as well as his opponents and mastered techniques that combined with a freakish speed in a pass rusher who was a mismatch against all but a few left tackles of his era.

3. (Tie) Steve McMichael, Julius Peppers

McMichael was the Bears equivalent of John Randle, the undersized Minnesota Vikings Hall of Fame defensive tackle, with McMichael amassing 92.5 career sacks despite playing much of his career in a two-gap scheme. He put up nine seasons of seven or more sacks and set the standard for interior pass rushers in Chicago. He is what the Bears can only wish Tommie Harris had become.

Peppers has had just one Chicago season, making his inclusion a recognition of both what he has been and what he is the focal point of opposing blocking schemes. As with Atkins and Dent, if the tackle assigned to Peppers is left on his own, Peppers is virtually unblockable.

First alternate: Rosevelt Colvin

Trip was a fourth-round selection in the 1999 draft out of Purdue and for the period of a couple years was unquestionably the leading edge force in Chicago. He collected 10-12 sacks in both 2001 and 2002, making him the first Bear since Dent to post double-digit sacks in consecutive seasons.

What made Colvins production particularly remarkable was that he was a strong-side linebacker in the Bears two-gap 4-3 scheme under Greg Blache and Dick Jauron and was not an every-down pass rusher.

Colvin left via free agency for New England in 2003 but the body of work in his early years earned him inclusion on the Bears All-Decade Team along with Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher.

Bears footnote: Colvin beat out Urlacher for the starting strong-side linebacker spot in 2000 after coaches had given 54 the job on draft day.

Honorable mention (Nos. 5-10)

Dan Hampton, Mike Hartenstine, Alex Brown, Ed Sprinkle, Brian Urlacher, Doug Buffone.

John "Moon" Mullin is CSNChicago.com's Bears Insider, and appears regularly on Bears Postgame Live and Chicago Tribune Live. Follow Moon on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Bears information.

A fan's guide for how to watch the NFL Combine

A fan's guide for how to watch the NFL Combine

The 2020 NFL Combine will go a long way in determining the final draft grade for each of the 337 prospects participating in on-field drills. General managers and scouts want to see whether their athletic testing matches the traits noted on film. If a player runs faster than he plays, scouts will question his on-field instincts and overall football IQ. In the alternative, if he runs slower than he plays, questions about level of competition and the ability to 'win' on the NFL level will be raised.

But in order to understand whether or not a prospect is having a good performance, you first have to know what the NFL is looking for as its minimum time/result required for each position and drill.

NFL Hall-of-Fame executive Gil Brandt, one of the legendary draft minds in the sport, shared what has become the standard breakdown each team uses when assessing a player's 40 time, 3-cone drill, broad jump, vertical jump and more.

Check it out:

Keep this page bookmarked this week and refer back to this chart as your favorite Bears prospects try to run and jump their way to Chicago. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.

2020 mock draft sends Bears OL, CB in 2nd round

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USA TODAY

2020 mock draft sends Bears OL, CB in 2nd round

The 2020 NFL Draft is front and center with the NFL Combine kicking off this week in Indianapolis. The week-long underwear Olympics represents the real start of draft season for the casual fan. Two months from now, we'll find out who the next class of Bears will be, and many of those players will make their case to GM Ryan Pace and the rest of the team's decision-makers over the next several days.

With the unofficial start of draft season comes the need to review the 2020 mock draft landscape. Pace has a chance to add two starters in the second round, and it's important to get a feel for which players could be within reach when Chicago picks at Nos. 43 and 50.

In Joe Marino's latest mock draft for The Draft Network, the Bears add a legitimate starting interior lineman and a cornerback who can challenge to do the same.

At No. 43, Marino sends Chicago Matt Hennessy, the standout center from Temple who can serve in the same capacity for the Bears if Nagy decides to kick Cody Whitehair back to guard. Hennessy was arguably the most impressive offensive lineman at the 2020 Senior Bowl. He routinely won his one-on-one reps and looked every bit the part of a decade-long starter in the middle of an NFL offensive line. 

What makes Hennessy so appealing is his ability to play either center or guard. We saw last season what a position change can do (both good and bad) along the interior of Chicago's offensive line, so depending on what the long-term outlook is for James Daniels and Whitehair, a player like Hennessy can fit any outcome. He'd be a great selection.

At No. 50, Chicago takes Mississippi State cornerback, Cameron Dantzler. This is the first mock draft that has Dantzler pegged to the Bears and it probably won't be the last that has Pace using one of his two second-rounders on a cornerback. The release of Prince Amukamara last week will move cornerback higher on the team's priority list.

Dantzler started 22 games for Mississippi State and totaled five interceptions over the last three seasons. At 6-2, 185 pounds, he brings good height and length to the pros. He projects like a fit in almost any defensive system and could come off the board much higher than the average fan is expecting at this point. How he performs in the athletic testing at the NFL Combine will be critical in his final evaluation. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of the Bears.