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Bears Draft Primer

Bears saw Brown as smart, impact playmaker


The Bears were believed to be interested in selecting Florida State kicker Sebastian Janikowski with their second-round pick in the 2000 draft.

But the Raiders nixed those plans and stunned the football world by choosing Janikowski with the 17th overall selection, making him the first (and still only) kicker ever picked in the first round of the draft.

The Bears had a pretty good plan B, choosing Nebraska safety Mike Brown in the second round at No. 39. They viewed him as an extremely smart and productive prospect who would upgrade their defense.

"Mike was the best football player on the board," then-Bears vice president of personnel Mark Hatley said at the time. "We felt he brought a lot to the table as far as the mental part of it. He's a very productive player. He makes plays and he's got good blitzing ability."

Then-Bears coach Dick Jauron was just as excited about landing Brown, who had led Nebraska in tackles for three straight seasons and had five interceptions as a senior.

"We think he's going to be a very productive player for us," Jauron said the day Brown was drafted. "We've seen him do a lot of different things. He is a good blitzer. He is a hard-nosed player. He has been a very good open-field tackler and a very sure player for [Nebraska]; a very dependable, smart guy who runs their defense. We think it's a great addition to our defensive team."

Brown was selected after the Bears had picked another pretty good defensive player with the ninth pick in the first round, linebacker Brian Urlacher.

During the pre-draft process, Brown impressed then-Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache with his football intelligence.

"The thing that's rare about this kid is that he is so smart," Blache said the day Brown was drafted. "I put him on the blackboard and asked the kid a bunch of questions. The kid's a sharp cookie. If there's any guy in the draft at that position who can come in and compete, he can. His intelligence is a plus to me."

At 5-10 and 205 pounds, Brown wasn't the biggest or fastest defensive back in the draft. But his football IQ more than made up for his unimpressive measurables.

"If you look at his height, weight and speed, it's not going to shake the roof down," Blache said. "But when you watch the young man play, you see him compete week after week. He's so consistent. His tackling is good, and he's a very intelligent young man. I think he can grasp our concepts quite quickly and come in and compete and be a factor."

Blache hit the nail on the head. Brown made an immediate impact with the Bears, starting all 16 games as a rookie and registering 102 tackles and one interception that he returned 35 yards for a touchdown in a loss to the Saints.

Brown continued to ascend in 2001, helping the Bears win the NFC Central title with a 13-3 record. He became the first player in NFL history to return interceptions for touchdowns in overtime in back-to-back games against the 49ers and Browns and was named first-team All-Pro.

Brown spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Bears from 2000-08, appearing in 100 games with 99 starts and recording 20 interceptions and seven defensive touchdowns, the second most in team history. Before being plagued by injury problems later in his career, Brown played in all 64 games (with 63 starts) during his first four seasons with the Bears.

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