Urlacher or Butkus? How about Urlacher and Butkus?

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Urlacher or Butkus? How about Urlacher and Butkus?

Brian Urlacher has heard enough detractors in his time, including one national publication declaring him the most overrated player in the NFL based on its poll.

A number of other very, very credible sources hold a decidedly different opinion.

Urlacher has emerged at No. 5 in ESPNs list of 20 current players who would be forces in any era, not just this one. None other than Jim Brown, the Cleveland legend, says of Urlacher: Brian Urlacher plays an intelligent game but is also very physical and very tough. He can apply his physicality with a mentality that fits into the game plan. His mental toughness is as good as it gets.

The list has a couple of seriously interesting aspects, and a couple of utterly bizarre ones that throw the whole thing into more than a little question.

Tim Tebow (yes, that Tim Tebow) came in at No. 19. Peyton Manning was No. 20. Go figure.

Urlacher finished well up on the list ahead of Tom Brady (No. 11), James Harrison (No. 10) and Aaron Rodgers (No. 9).

What makes the list doubly interesting is looking at it in reverse.

The panel of selectors included Brown, Mike Ditka, John Randle, Jerry Rice and more than a dozen other Hall of Fame players. Think Brown, 232 pounds, 6-foot-2, could play in the current era? How about Ditka, 6-foot-3, 235?

Or how about Butkus? 6-foot-3, 245, fast and in the Ray Lewis mold (or vice versa)? Critics are fond of denigrating Butkus and players like him, probably because they were white (actually they still are), just like the experts of that era didnt think African Americans could play quarterback, center or middle linebacker.

But thats another issue for another time. All you need to know is that John Randle was 6-foot-1, 270 pounds, an undrafted runt defensive tackle, and he did play in this era of road-grader guards.

When you look at the so-called eras, look past the superficials and look at the players. Like Brown. Like Urlacher.

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Missouri OLB Charles Harris

2017 NFL Draft Profile: Missouri OLB Charles Harris

As part of our coverage leading up to the 2017 NFL Draft we will provide profiles of more than 100 prospects, including a scouting report and video interviews with each player.

Charles Harris, OLB, Missouri

6'3" | 253 lbs.

2016 stats:

61 tackles, 12 TFL, 9 sacks

Projection:

First round

Scouting Report:

"High-cut pass rusher with good athleticism but concerns regarding his ability to drop anchor against the run. Ironically, Harris might be best suited as a penetrator which is something he fought against this season. His hands can be improved as pass rush weapons, but he has agility and footwork that can't be taught. Harris can play on the edge in a 4-3 or 3-4 front and should be the next in a line of early contributing defensive ends coming out of Missouri." — Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

Video analysis provided by Rotoworld and NBC Sports NFL Draft expert Josh Norris.

Click here for more NFL Draft Profiles

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

PHOENIX – Brandon Marshall never needed a whole lot of encouragement to step before a microphone but the NFL, which sometimes wished he'd put a sock in it, has now invited the former Bears wide receiver to speak up.
 
The NFL extended an invitation for Marshall, whose time in Chicago ended in some measure because of his insistence on pursuing the media portion of his career, to address the league higher-up's ostensibly as part of a communications bridge-building. Marshall jumped at the chance.
 
"They thought it was important for a player to come up and give a player's perspective and talk about the relationship between owners and players," Marshall said on Monday at the outset of the NFL owners meetings. "I think it's evident that our relationship could be so much better."
 
Marshall has been part of Showtime's "Inside the NFL" in recent years, flying to New York to participate in taping the show, and ultimately accepting a trade from the Bears to the Jets in 2015, which obviously cut down on his commute. The Jets released Marshall earlier this month, after which Marshall signed on with the Giants.
 
He told owners this week, "If we want our game to continue to be on that [positive] track, that it's on being super successful and being a pillar in our community and being a thread in our community, we have to make sure our relationship as players and owners is good."

[VIVID SEATS: Get your Bears tickets right here!]
 
The immediate response was more than a little positive: Per San Francisco 49ers owner Jed York:

https://twitter.com/JedYork/status/846400103472480256
 
Marshall predictably welcomed the forum and wants to see it expanded.

"I'd like to see more players be more involved in our owners meetings," Marshall said. "And not only at the owners meetings, but any time we're talking football, we should have players at the table. Commissioner Goodell is always open-minded. He always has that open-door policy. So I think he'll continue to listen and continue to evolve this part of our business."