Alabama Center, Barrett Jones
Each year, hundreds of collegiate athletes enter the NFL draft with the hopes of becoming the next great player. Teams try to find those who best fit the scheme of the team and, in some instances, try and find players who best exemplify what the organization is all about.
The phrase "Monsters of the Midway" has been common vernacular for Bears fans since the early 1940s. Mostly derived from the dominant play of the 1940 and 1941 teams that won back-to-back NFL Championships, the phrase came back into relevance in 1986, as the Bears' stellar running game and dominant defense led them to a victory in Super Bowl XX.
Since the incarnation of the "Monsters of the Midway," the organization has always been viewed as a team that is blue-collared. They work hard, they are tough, and when push comes to shove, they will be the ones to dominant defensively and in the running game.
The 2013 NFL draft is full of great athletes and potential superstars, but some have that little extra "something"—the thing that embodies the "Monsters of the Midway" mentality.
Here are three NFL draft prospects who were born to play for the Chicago Bears:
After a remarkable undefeated regular season in South Bend, the year did not end the way the Irish thought it would in the BCS National Championship Game, but throughout the course of their season, their defense was tough and physical, much like safety Zeke Motta.
Motta was a top recruit out of Florida four years ago, and although overshadowed by eventual first-round pick Harrison Smith, he took advantage of the spotlight his senior season and has improved his draft stock dramatically.
NBC and NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock has been in Motta's corner for much of the season and talked about some of his strength, saying (h/t NBC Sports):
I like Zeke Motta for a lot of reasons. He’s a big, physical, tough safety. You look at the success that Harrison Smith had a year ago as a first-round safety, and Zeke is a little bigger, stronger, and more physical
A big, strong, physical safety? That combination is reminiscent of former Bears safeties Gary Fencik and Doug Plank.
The safety position for the Bears has been up and down in recent years, but at times we have seen guys like Fencik, Plank and Mike Brown excel, and when they did, the team excelled along with them.
Matta has seen his draft stock rise. He has gone from a guy once considered a late-round/undrafted free agent to someone who could go as high as the third round.
His physicality and toughness are two keys to being a dominant Bears safety.
Cutler's frustration was obvious, and he defended himself after the game, saying (h/t USA Today):
I'm trying to win football games, trying to get first downs. When we're not doing the little things the right way consistently, I'm going to say something. If they want a quarterback that doesn't care, they need to get somebody else.
Some still criticized him for his actions, but some also understood and respected him for not settling for mediocrity and being willing to show his emotions and desire to win.
Fast forward to the BCS National Championship Game in early January, and despite Alabama's 42-14 lead in the fourth quarter, a delay of game penalty enraged both Alabama center Barrett Jones and quarterback A.J. McCarron, enough to get into a bit of a shoving match.
Even in a complete blowout, Jones was still striving for perfection, saying (h/t Huffington Post):
We're both perfectionists. He's an emotional guy. We had a snap count difference.
His desire to be perfect and his ability to not back down, regardless of who was in his face, are perfect examples of what the Bears organization has always been about.
Jones is a versatile player who has played every position on the offensive line and could find himself being drafted in the first round of the 2013 draft.
His versatility is a plus, but his hard-working attitude, strength and relentless motor best exemplify what it means to be a Chicago Bear.
Butkus. Singletary. Urlacher.
Those three names have become synonymous with the "Monsters of the Midway" culture in Chicago, and with an aging Brian Urlacher, it is becoming more evident that it is time to look for the next addition to that list.
Florida's Jon Bostic has been a somewhat under-the-radar performer for the Gators in his four years in Gainesville, but he saw his draft stock rise during much of last season.
CBS Sports' Rob Rang describes Bostic as an "instinctive, physical football player who doesn't back down from a challenge. Seems to enjoy the physicality of the game, rushing to take on fullbacks and pulling linemen."
Dick Butkus was known as one of the most physical players to ever play the game, and he relished any and all opportunities to put a hit on someone. Bostic shares some of those same traits with Butkus, as he is a hard hitter in the run game and plays physical while trying to shed blockers.
Regardless of all that Walter Payton did for the Bears organization, the tradition of great middle linebackers typically gets top recognition.
Bostic is viewed as a third- or fourth-round prospect but could bolster up draft boards with a strong showing at the NFL Combine in a few weeks.
Toughness, physicality and instincts are all common traits shared by Butkus, Singletary and Urlacher, and while still raw, Bostic has a good combination of all three of those traits.