Draft Rewind – Chicago Bears

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With the NFL draft rapidly approaching, let’s take a look back at each team’s hits and misses over the past 25 years.

FIVE BEST PICKS

1. Devin Hester, CB, Miami. 2nd round, #57 overall in 2006.

In his first two years, Hester ran back an astounding 11 kicks for touchdowns, and now holds the record for total return TDs with 18. That is a record that may be standing for some time. Originally drafted to play corner, the Bears flipped him to WR in 2007 and he has sprinkled in 14 more receiving TDs. The three-time All-Pro was an integral part of the 2006 NFC Championship team, and returned the opening kickoff back for a TD in Super Bowl XLI.

2. Lance Briggs, LB, Arizona. 3rd round, #68 overall in 2003.

Briggs has been a rock since day 1, pairing with Urlacher to give the Bears a formidable combo at LB. Often overlooked, some Bears fans will tell you he was a better player than Urlacher. His intangibles far outweigh his stats, though he does have 15 career INTs (five returned for TDs). 30 LBs were drafted in 2003, and only Terrell Suggs has been his equal.

3. Matt Forte, RB, Tulane. 2nd round, 44th overall in 2008.

Heading into the 2008 draft, fellow RBs Darren McFadden, Jonathan Stewart, Felix Jones, and Rashard Mendenhall got considerably more pub. Only draft-mate Jamaal Charles has performed at Forte’s level. His yearly average stat line reads as such: 1100 yds rushing, 6 rush TDs, 57 receptions for 487 yds, and 2 receiving TDs. Thats a considerable return on a mid-second round choice.

4. Alshon Jeffery, WR, South Carolina. 2nd round, #45 overall in 2012.
Jeffrey exploded last year after an up and down rookie campaign. He easily looks like the best of the 33 WR taken in the 2012 draft, including the five drafted ahead of him; a re-draft would have seen him drafted in the top 5 (the Jags at 5 would have loved him there in lieu of Justin Blackmon).

5. Olin Kreutz, C, Washington. 3rd round, #64 overall in 1998.
Kreutz was an iron man for the Bears from 2001 and 2010, as he played in 159 of 160 games while racking up six Pro Bowl nods (and one All-Pro). 1998 was an impressive draft that yielded Peyton Manning, Charles Woodson, Randy Moss, and Hines Ward among 29 future Pro Bowlers. Kreutz was edged out by Kevin Mawae for the best C of the 2000’s, but he has clearly been the better player.

FIVE WORST PICKS

1. Curtis Enis, RB, Penn St. 1st round, #5 overall in 1998

As mentioned earlier, this draft produced a ton of studs; 1998 also had a bunch of busts, including Enis. His apologists like to point to injuries (he had his fair share), but he wasn’t especially impressive when healthy. Chicago really needed to get the pick right if it was a RB, considering what happened with their 1995 1st rounder (more on him later). Fred Taylor should have been the pick, as he went on to accumulate 13,500 yds from scrimmage and 84 TDs with the Jags. Enis was out of the league in three years.

2. David Terrell, WR, Michigan. 1st round, #8 overall in 2001.

As alluded to in earlier posts, 2001 was hard on teams trying to find a WR in the first round; six were drafted but only Santana Moss (#16) and Reggie Wayne (#30) were productive. Both were better options than Terrell, who was flat-out mediocre. Chicago was looking to replace Marcus Robinson, and were envisioning a solid 1-2 punch with Marty Booker. Although he did show an occasional flash, Terrell was a major disappointment. Hopefully, he wont call me out and blame his production on the Bears’ QB situation.

3. Cade McNown, QB, UCLA. 1st round, #12 overall in 1999.

Despite having some solid WR options to throw to in his two yrs with the Bears (M. Robinson, Booker, Curtis Conway, Eddie Kennison, and Bobby Engram), McNown was brutal behind center and went 3-12 in 15 starts. His avg career start looked something like this: 19 for 34 for 207 yds, 1 TD and 1 INT. His career 6.0 yards per attempt are in Joey Harrington/Rick Mirer territory. The Bears gave up on him pretty quickly and shipped him out-of-town, which in hindsight was smart because they at least got something for him (he never played another down in the NFL).

4. Rashaan Salaam, RB, Colorado. 1st round, #25 overall in 1995.
On the surface, Salaam’s rookie year looks very respectable: over 1,000 yds rushing and 10 TDs (he actually is the youngest RB to run for 1,000 yds). But he fumbled nine times and averaged an abysmal 3.6 yds a carry. The Bears cut him after less than 20 starts and he was in the XFL a few years later. Salaam later blamed his poor play in part on a marijuana addiction. Future Hall of Fame RB Curtis Martin went two rounds later, in a draft that saw five first round RBs go to exactly zero Pro Bowls.

5 (tie). Cedric Benson, RB, Texas. 1st round, #4 overall in 2005 & Michael Haynes, DE, Penn St. 1st round, #14 overall in 2003.
Benson had a tumultuous three years wearing navy and orange to say the least: he held out for five weeks of camp his rookie yr; clashed with teammates when he finally reported; couldn’t beat out Thomas Jones his first two yrs; and got cut after his third yr as a result of multiple alcohol-related arrests. Haynes started four games in three years, was not a good fit in Lovie Smith’s defense, and had little impact on the field with the Bears, or with other teams after he left Chi-town. Calvin Pace, Osi Umenyiora, and Robert Mathis were on the board.

Stats courtesy of pro-football-reference.com

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