The Bleak History Of Chicago Bears First Round Picks


Thursday night the NFL Draft will be held, and as things currently sit, the Chicago Bears will be making the 14th pick. This could all change before the Bears are officially on the clock, though. Maybe the Bears will trade up to grab somebody they covet, or maybe they’ll trade down to get more picks. We don’t know.

What we do know is that if the Bears do make a selection in the first round on Thursday night, no matter who they choose, that player is probably going to suck.

Prepare yourself, dear reader, for I wallowed through the misery of the last 20 years of Bears first round draft picks, and I ranked those picks based on their AV (approximate value) rating according to Pro Football Reference. If you’ve been paying attention to the Bears these last 20 years, you already know things aren’t pretty (though they start off pretty well).

In the last 20 drafts the Bears have picked 17 players in the first round (they did not make first round picks in 1997, 2006, 2009 or 2010, but made two first round choices in 2003), and only one of them had a career we can call excellent. We’ll start with him.

1. Brian Urlacher, 2000, 9th pick

Seasons with Bears: 13

Career AV with Bears: 152

Average AV with Bears: 11.69

While the end of Urlacher’s career was a bit of a downer, both in his performance and the way it was handled — not to mention the way Brian’s handled it since — there’s really no dispute that Urlacher was the best first round pick the Bears made in the last 20 years. He’s one of the best Bears of all time. And while there are a few more players on this list who had solid careers, Urlacher is head and shoulders above everybody else.

2. Tommie Harris, 2004, 14th

Seasons with Bears: 7

Career AV with Bears: 62

Average AV with Bears: 8.86

Tommie Harris had a great start to his career, and for a while it looked like the Bears had happened upon their own Warren Sapp. Sadly, injuries would cut Harris’ time in the NFL short, and keep him from becoming the player he was capable of. However, you’ll notice that the Bears took him with the 14th pick. Could there be another stud defensive tackle available to the Bears at 14 this year? I know I’m hoping so.

3. Walt Harris, 1996, 13th

Seasons with Bears: 6

Career AV with Bears: 38

Average AV with Bears: 6.33

Walt Harris was actually pretty damn solid and one of the more underrated Bears during his career. Also, it should be pointed out that Walt is one of the few players on this list who went on to have a productive career after leaving Chicago. He would play seven more seasons and finish with a career AV total of 83.

4. Greg Olsen, 2007, 31st

Seasons with Bears: 4

Career AV with Bears: 17

Average AV with Bears: 4.25

Now, this should give you a good idea of how bad the Bears have been in the first round. Greg Olsen did not suck when he was a Bear, but he certainly wasn’t anything special. Yet, here he is, ranked fourth. Let that sink in and then check out who is ranked fifth.

5. Chris Williams, 2008, 14th

Seasons with Bears: 5

Career AV with Bears: 18

Average AV with Bears: 3.6

Exactly. Williams’ Bears career got off to a very bad start due to back problems, and when he finally got onto the field, he wasn’t very impressive. He’s this high based on more on his tenure – five years – than anything else. That average AV of 3.6 is terrible, yet it’s higher than many other players we’ve yet to get to.

6. John Thierry, 1994, 11th

Seasons with Bears: 5

Career AV with Bears: 17

Average AV with Bears: 3.4

Do you even remember John Thierry? I kind of do, but that is pretty much everything you need to know about him. He was a guy that was taken early in the 1994 draft, yet never lived up to his draft position. He was just a guy. And that’s not what you want with the 11th pick.

7. Rex Grossman, 2003, 22nd

Seasons with Bears: 6

Career AV with Bears: 17

Average AV with Bears: 2.83

Rex Grossman “led” the Bears to the Super Bowl! Seriously, though, remember Rex in the first month of that season? He was awesome. Unfortunately, he was terrible every other month of his career with the Bears, but to his credit he’s actually managed to hang around and stay employed. And if that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know about the state of the quarterback position in the NFL, I don’t know what will.

8. Rashaan Salaam, 1995, 21st

Seasons with Bears: 3

Career AV with Bears: 13

Average AV with Bears: 4.33

I was so excited when the Bears drafted Salaam. He was the Heisman Trophy winner! We had our new Walter Payton! And then his career began and, well, we got some good weed jokes out of it, I guess. In Rashaan’s defense, he’s not even the lowest ranked pot-smoking running back on this list.

9. Cedric Benson, 2005, 4th

Seasons with Bears: 3

Career AV with Bears: 12

Average AV with Bears: 4

Here is the lowest-ranked pot smoking RB on this list! And good God, the Bears used the 4th pick on him. That’s the highest pick the Bears have had in the last 20 years, and they used it on Cedric Benson. Here are some other players taken after Benson in that first round: DeMarcus Ware, Aaron Rodgers and Roddy White. Now I need a joint.

10. Kyle Long, 2013, 20th

Seasons with Bears: 1

Career AV with Bears: 12

Average AV with Bears: 12

Kyle has played only one season and he’s already in the top 10, and hopefully he’ll have a career worthy enough to move him even further up this list. But here’s what you need to know right now, Kyle had an AV of 12 last year. Only eight other players on this list had a total AV greater than 12 during their entire Bears career.

11. David Terrell, 2001, 8th

Seasons with Bears: 4

Career AV with Bears: 12

Average AV with Bears: 3

We’ve now reached the bustiest busts of all these busts portion of the list. I hated this pick when the Bears made it because I was a Notre Dame fan, and David Terrell was a Michigan Wolverine. As far as the Bears go, Terrell’s failures in the NFL were not a good thing, but personally I was fine with it.

12. Curtis Enis, 1998, 5th

Seasons with Bears: 3

Career AV with Bears: 10

Average AV with Bears: 3.33

Did Curtis Enis smoke weed? I don’t know. What I do know is that he was terrible, and the only thing he had going for him was that his name sounded like penis, which made for some awesome jokes between me and my friends. Heh, heh, penis.

13. Gabe Carimi, 2011, 29th

Seasons with Bears: 2

Career AV with Bears: 7

Average AV with Bears: 3.5

This was a recent pick that I actually loved at the time the Bears made the selection. Needless to say, I am a stupid, stupid, man.

14. Cade McNown, 1999, 12th

Seasons with Bears: 2

Career AV with Bears: 7

Average AV with Bears: 3.5

Cade McNown was so terrible that he made Rex Grossman look good. All in all the 1999 draft was terrible for quarterbacks. I remember newspaper stories about how this was the best QB draft since 1983, and the QBs taken in the first round that year were McNown, Tim Couch, Akili Smith, Daunte Culpepper and Donovann McNabb. McNabb was the only one worth a damn, though Culpepper had a couple great seasons before flaming out.

15. Mike Haynes, 2003, 14th

Seasons with Bears: 3

Career AV with Bears: 8

Average AV with Bears: 2.67

I honestly can’t think of anything to say about Mike Haynes, other than the fact he was one of two first round picks the Bears had in 2003, and they used the second on Grossman.

16. Shea McClellin, 2012, 19th

Seasons with Bears: 2

Career AV with Bears: 6

Average AV with Bears: 3

Hopefully, McClellin will do something this year to increase his value and better his position on this list. I am not optimistic.

17. Marc Colombo, 2002, 29th

Seasons with Bears: 3

Career AV with Bears: 3

Average AV with Bears: 1

Injuries destroyed Colombo’s career with the Bears, but while he’s last on this list, these rankings are based on nothing but players’ time as a Bears. Colombo actually went on to have a solid career, playing six more seasons with an average AV of 7.67 in that span. That’s an average AV higher than all but Urlacher, Tommie Harris and Kyle Long.

Now, if you haven’t already started, I suggest you go start drinking.

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