The best of the Bears: Outside linebackers


As training camp approaches and looks ahead to competitions and other situations, Bears Insider Moon Mullin ranks the top three in franchise history at each position.

1. Lance Briggs
1a. Wilbur Marshall

This is a hugely tough choice. Marshall was the consensus best single player on the 85-87 defense in the opinion of teammates. But Briggs has gone to seven straight Pro Bowls despite playing in the shadow of Brian Urlacher and for a team that has yet to win a Super Bowl.

Theyre both about 6-1, Briggs about 10 pounds heavier. Briggs is better against the run. Marshall, faster, was significantly better in coverage. Both represent impact blitz threats although Marshall had 45 career sacks to Briggs 10.5 with far fewer blitz opps.

Marshall averaged measurably more tackles over his first nine seasons vs. what Briggs has accomplished.

But Marshall was a Bear for just four of his 12 NFL seasons and his five best years were as a Washington Redskin beginning the year (1988) he left Chicago.

Briggs is a Bear. The best outside linebacker in franchise history, in fact.

3. George Connor

Connor was considered the first of the big, fast, mobile outside linebackers, All-NFL five times and picked to the 1951 and 1952 Pro Bowls on both offense and defense. Connor was 6-3, 240 pounds.

He was voted into the Hall of Fame, with some performances that have been worth singling out. He dropped out of Holy Cross at 18 to serve a couple of years in the WWII Navy, so he didnt come into the NFL until age 23.

Evaluating players from other eras can be difficult sometimes because of competition levels (black players were late into the NFL) and other factors.

However, when you see a 6-3, 240-pound player strong enough to play left tackle and defensive tackle, and fast enough to move to linebacker and have that be his best position, its not really so difficult after all.

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