10 best draft picks in Bears history

Sep 7, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears cornerback Charles Tillman (33) during the first quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

A while back, we covered the 10 worst draft picks in Bears history. It’s not all gloom and doom here at cover32 Bears, though. That’s why we’ll now take a look at the 10 best draft picks in the team’s history.

Before we begin, let’s go over what makes a draft pick one of the “best”. A bad pick explains itself, but a good pick could mean a lot of things.

The main thing we’ll be looking for is value. If a player outplays their draft position, then they are a “good pick”. That’s why players like Walter Payton, Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers won’t be on this list. While they were all fantastic during their tenure with the Bears, they were also all very high draft picks.

Here are some of the players who were good picks, but not good enough to make this list.

Honorable Mentions:

Nathan Vasher, 110th pick, 2004

Patrick Mannelly, 189th pick, 1998

Jordan Howard, 150th pick, 2016

Nathan Vasher was a solid contributor at cornerback for the Bears for six seasons. He made first-team All-Pro in 2005. Patrick Mannelly was a long snapper, but his 16-year tenure with Chicago made him a fantastic late-round pick. Jordan Howard lit up the NFL in his rookie season last year. His inexperience prevents him from making the list, but he could be well on his way to being one of the greatest steals in Bears history with some more good seasons.

10. Dave Duerson- 64th pick, 1983

Dave Duerson was a staple of the Bears’ dominant defense in the 1980s. The four-time Pro Bowler, alongside Gary Fencik, formed a scary safety tandem.

9. Devin Hester- 57th pick, 2006

It’s rare for a return specialist to go as high as Devin Hester did. However, with the amazing career he had, using the 57th pick on him was a steal. He holds the record for most special teams return touchdowns with 20. The four-time Pro Bowler may just be the greatest kick returner of all time.


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8. Doug Plank- 291st pick, 1975

Doug Plank wasn’t a star, but he was a reliable starter in the secondary for eight seasons with the Bears. Not too shabby for a 12th round pick.

7. Stan Jones- 54th pick, 1953

Stan Jones was a fifth-round pick who defied the odds en route to a Hall of Fame career. He went on to make seven Pro Bowls and received three first-team All-Pro honors. He is still one of the most decorated offensive linemen in Bears history.

6. Charles Tillman- 35th pick, 2003

Charles Tillman only made two Pro Bowls, which is surprising. However, his impact for the Bears’ defense was insurmountable. In 156 games with the team, he had 36 interceptions and 42 forced fumbles. Peanut was truly one of the greatest cornerbacks in team history.

5. Dan Fortmann- 78th pick, 1936

Fun fact: George Halas drafted Dan Fortmann because his name had a “good, solid football ring to it”. Luckily, for Papa Bear, that move paid off. Fortmann would go on to become a six-time All-Pro guard and a Hall of Famer.

4. Olin Kreutz- 64th pick, 1998

Olin Kreutz was a definition of a workhorse. From 2001 to 2010, he only missed one game. The six-time Pro Bowler was a centerpiece of the Bears’ offense throughout the 2000s.

3. Lance Briggs- 68th pick, 2003

Alongside Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs formed one of the most dominant linebackers duos the NFL had seen in a very long time. The seven-time Pro Bowler was a tackling machine who well outplayed his draft status.

2. Mike Singletary- 38th pick, 1981

Mike Singletary went from a second-round pick out of Baylor to one of the greatest linebackers of all time. Samurai Mike was the heart and soul of the 1985 Bears defense. He went on to have a 12-year career with 10 Pro Bowl appearances, eight All-Pro nominations and an induction into the Hall of Fame.

1. Richard Dent- 203rd pick, 1983

When Richard Dent entered the NFL, he was a undersized eighth-round pick with very little chance of success. When he left the NFL, he was a four-time Pro Bowler who surpassed eight sacks in 10 out of his 11 seasons with the Bears. He retired with 137.5 sacks, which ranks ninth all time. Voters finally named him a Hall of Famer in 2011, placing him among the greatest to ever play the game of football.

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