Dick Butkus with Broncos instead of Bears? Hey, it could've happened


Dick Butkus with Broncos instead of Bears? Hey, it could've happened

With the NFL Draft coming to Chicago for the first time, Bears Hall of Fame linebacker Dick Butkus had occasion to look back on his own draft experience, which could have ended with him as a member of the Denver Broncos.

Butkus and Gale Sayers were members of the 1965 draft class, right in the middle of the battle between the NFL and the still-developing American Football League. The Kansas City Chiefs made an unsuccessful try to sign Sayers, who played at Kansas, and drafted Sayers with the No. 5 pick of the first round of the AFL Draft.

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Meanwhile, the Broncos were making their play for Butkus, to the point of showing more outward interest in Butkus than his hometown team, the Bears. The Broncos had traded their first-round pick in the AFL Draft to the New York Jets but wanted to take Butkus with the first pick (ninth overall) of the second round.

“My draft experience was, I didn’t have one, I think,” Butkus said via conference call on Tuesday. “You didn’t get the exposure that you get today. I was in New York for one of the All-American weekends and they had the draft back in December.”

Butkus came up from Champaign and the University of Illinois on Friday. Folks from the Broncos were waiting, as were the Bears at their offices in downtown Chicago. Butkus didn’t think much about the Bears as headed off to New York.

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But word was seeping out that the Bears intended to draft Butkus, a consensus All-American at Illinois

“That floored me because they’d never made any contact before,” Butkus said. “Saturday morning, sure enough, I was drafted by the Bears.”

Bears to hold joint training camp practices with Broncos this summer

Bears to hold joint training camp practices with Broncos this summer

The Bears will reunite with former defensive coordinator Vic Fangio in Denver this summer, as word broke Monday the Broncos will host Matt Nagy and Co. for joint training camp practices in advance of their preseason game in August.

The Chicago Tribune's Brad Biggs confirmed the news on Twitter.

This is the second time Denver will welcome the Bears for training camp sessions. The two teams held joint practices back in 2018.

Training camp won't be the first time the Bears will see Fangio since his departure last offseason. Chicago pulled off a last-second victory over the Broncos in Week 2 of the 2019 season when kicker Eddy Pineiro booted a 53-yard game-winner as time expired in the fourth quarter. His kick was set up by the clutch version of Mitch Trubisky, who connected on a 25-yard pass to Allen Robinson on the play before Pineiro's conversion.

Fangio left a lasting impact during his time as the Bears defensive coordinator that reached its peak in 2018 when Chicago was widely regarded as the most ferocious defense in the league. The Bears finished third in yards allowed per game and ended the season with the top run defense. Their 27 interceptions were tops in the NFL, too.

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. 

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