When Brian Urlacher tore his MCL and PCL in his knee last season, to the casual football fan it might not have been a big deal, but to me I looked at it as the beginning of the end for Urlacher. Linebackers that is on the wrong side of 30 with a knee injury don’t mix, especially one that relies of athleticism, quickness, and speed.
One of the attributes that is keeping Urlacher from becoming a complete liability out there is his instincts. He’s one of the smartest football players in the league at diagnosing plays.
With Urlacher contract expiring after this season, the Chicago Bears will need to make a decision on rather to commit big money to a 34-year old LB that’s declining right before or eyes. If Urlacher keeps improving each week, the Bears won’t have any other choice.
There’s no one on the current roster who you can say is the heir apparent to Urlacher. Nick Roach is probably more athletic than Urlacher at this point in their careers, but he has trouble locating the football when playing MLB.
The coaches raved up Dom Decicco in training camp, but them cutting him after a couple preseason games tells me that was just training camp speak. Blake Costanzo is a special team standout and that’s pretty much where his football abilities stop.
If MLB is not a number one priority on the team then it’s a close second.
Ideal Prospect for the Bears: Alec Ogletree Georgia
Bears fans would love to land a Manti Te’o, but Te’o has put together a season that puts him out of reach. You could also make a strong argument that offensive line is hands down the number one need on this team.
A player like Ogletree who has first round talent, but quite possibly could drop because of character concerns (suspended 4 games for a failed drug test) would be an ideal player to develop behind Urlacher for a couple years. Ogletree is a fast instinctive LB that has the kind of sideline-to-sideline speed to play LB in a tampa-2.
If the Bears plan on re-upping Urlacher after this season, they need a young successor behind him. Ogletree fits the bill at a position that needs young depth behind it.