If you aren’t hip to the Relative Athletic Score (RAS), it’s a number that has been developed by Kent Lee Platte (he writes about the Lions at Pride Of Detroit, but we won’t hold that against him) as a way to “provide a metric that can easily and intuitively gauge a player’s athletic abilities relative to the position they play and provide tools to contrast and compare based on known measurables.”
We’re talking strictly their NFL Combine and Pro Days numbers, so some of the names listed may not have had the most illustrious NFL career.
RAS is sortable by team going all the way back to 1987, so I ran through all the top athletes that have been charted in their Bears database and built a hypothetical first string offense and first string defense for them.
I used the player’s position with the Bears as a guideline, so for example when I came across Jerry Azumah, who played running back in college, he made the cut here using his professional position. I also built this defense as a 4-3 (with one sub package corner), since that’s what the Bears have had most of their existence.
DE - John Thierry (9.94): I remember when the Bears drafted Thierry with the 11th overall pick in 1994 thinking that his linebacker speed would make him a terror at defensive end. It didn’t. His athleticism never really translated and he only managed 12.5 sacks in 5 years with the Bears.
DT - Tank Johnson (9.91): Johnson, a 304 pound defensive tackle, ran a 4.69 forty at his pro day, and was an important part of Chicago’s 2006 Super Bowl run. Some legal issues prompted the Bears to cut him before the 2007 season.
DT - Jim Flanigan (9.82): The third-round pick from Notre Dame (1994) had a nice 7-year career with Chicago, including an 11 sack season in 1995. His 40.5 sacks in a Bears uniform is 8th all time in franchise history
DE - Mark Anderson (9.79): Anderson’s 12 sacks in 2006 is still the Bears all time record from a rookie. He only racked up 9.5 sacks in his next 46 games in Chicago, but did have one more big year compiling 10 sacks as a situational pass rusher with the Patriots in 2011.
OLB - Leonard Floyd (9.81): His lack of sacks led many fans into thinking he wasn’t very good his first four years in Chicago, but he impacted their defense in other ways. While he was finally getting to the QB with the Rams in 2020, his pressure numbers were very similar to what he did in 2019.
MLB - Brain Urlacher (10.0): Urlacher is the only 10.0 RAS player the Bears have ever drafted, and all those athletic traits he showed leading up to the 2000 draft also showed up between the lines during his Hall of Fame career.
OLB - Warrick Holdman (9.38): The 4th-round pick in 1999 played five years in Chicago and compiled 351 tackles in 50 games.
CB - Charles Tillman (9.78): Tillman is one of the best and most popular Bears of all time, and his Peanut Punch revolutionized the game.
S - Brandon Hardin (9.85): The Bears took the athletic Hardin in the 3rd-round of the 2012 draft after an injury plagued collegiate career at Oregon State. The bad injury luck came with him as a pro and he was out of the league in three years after never appearing in a regular season game.
S - Al Afalava (9.65): The Bears started Afalava for 13 games in the 2009 season, but he didn’t even make the team the following year. The 6th-round pick was out of the league before the 2013 season after appearing in just 16 more games for the Colts and Titans.
CB - Jerry Azumah (9.56): “Zoom” was an outstanding collegiate running back at New Hampshire, setting multiple Division 1-AA records, but GM Mark Hatley drafted him with the notion of playing him on defense. He started 49 of the 105 he appeared in and he was selected for the 2003 Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams as a kick returner.
CB3 - Stephen Denmark (9.36): Denmark’s athleticism popped on his 2018 Valdosta State tape, but he was never able to get past the Bears practice squad in two years.
This hypothetical first team defense would have some holes that a good offense could exploit, but there are just enough playmakers that I think they would be alright.