The 1985 Chicago Bears won the only Super Bowl in team history one year after they set an NFL record that still stands today – 72 quarterback sacks during the 1984 season.
That ’85 Bears defense is remembered as one of the greatest defenses of all time, and that sack record is significant because it was set by what many believe was the best defensive line ever.
Dan Hampton, named All-Pro six times, is the only NFL lineman to earn All-Pro honors at both end and tackle and was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002. Richard Dent was a four-time All-Pro and entered the Hall of Fame in 2011. Steve McMichael was a four-time All-Pro, and William “Refrigerator” Perry was the second tackle. Mike Hartenstein would have been a star on any other team and logged significant time during those two seasons as well.
Hampton and Perry were first-round draft choices; Hartenstein came in the second round; McMichael was taken in the third round; Dent was an eighth-round pick.
They are significant today not only because of their remarkable history and accomplishments, but because the Bears recently wrapped up their season as the worst team in the NFL, and most believe their greatest need is help on the defensive line.
So how fitting is it that the “experts” agree the strongest and deepest position in this year’s college draft is defensive line, and no team has more draft capital to work with than the Bears?
Visiting with the media Tuesday at the NFL Draft Combine, head coach Matt Eberflus certainly didn’t throw his current linemen under the bus, but he also didn’t dispute his team has a real need at that position.
Clearly, the Bears need to get more pass rush – a lot more – and Eberflus explained what he’s looking for to get that done.
“I’d just say the ability to turn the corner. Most guys, when they start their rush, when they get to the move area, the ones that can’t get there, they start working away from the quarterback,” he said.
“The ones that do have everything pointing, their hips, toes, knees, everything toward the quarterback. And they have the ability to work their move around the edge. And then when they get past the quarterback, they have strength to work back inside. So those are the things. Obviously, you have to have great athleticism, and then great get-off helps too.
“Those are the things we look for.”
Eberflus knows he needs help inside and outside, and he’s focused on both right now.
Remarkably, there are as many as 20 players with first-, second- or third-round grades at either edge rusher or defensive tackle in this draft, and it is one of the main reasons so many are convinced the Bears would be better off trading the No. 1 overall pick for multiple high picks.
Jalen Carter (Georgia), Will Anderson (Alabama), Tree Wilson (Texas Tech), Nolan Smith (Georgia), Myles Murphy (Clemson) and Byron Young (Alabama) are among the top-rated linemen in this draft and players the Bears certainly are studying right now, but it appears clear the No. 1 overall pick would be too rich for any one of them. Thus, the multiple reports of a looming trade.
Carter was a clear consensus as the top-rated prospect, but his draft status and NFL future became a serious question mark when it was announced Wednesday morning he will be arrested for reckless driving and racing in a Jan. 15 car accident that caused the death of a teammate and Georgia staff member.
While what is next for Carter is unknown, it appears clear at the NFL Combine that the Bears are looking for the best deal they can get for the top pick, and that they will be looking to upgrade their defensive line.
Might they build another legendary group?