Current Chicago Bears General Manager Jerry Angelo started his duties with the Bears in 2001. However, his first draft as Bears GM came in 2002; and Angelo wasted no time in making moves.
Coming off a very successful 2001 campaign, the Bears felt they could draft the best players available when their draft number was called and not necessarily be confined to draft for need.
With this so called selection freedom, Angelo channeled his inner Monty Hall and began playing Let’s Make a Deal. Finding a trade partner in the Dallas Cowboys, Angelo went to work in what would be the beginning of an up and down draft process for years to come.
Giving Dallas our 2nd round pick, the Bears in return received the Cowboys’ 3rd round selection, #72 overall, the two teams also switched 4th round picks, Bears went from #129 overall to #104, and we garnered Dallas’ 5th rounder, #140 overall.
Got all that?
Ironically enough, the Bears first selection in the 2002 draft now plays for the Dallas Cowboys. With the 29th overall pick, the Bears looked to the big 6’ 8" 300 pound plus offensive tackle from Boston College, Marc Colombo. A dominating presence in college, Colombo did not give up a sack his final two years in school, earning All Big East honors his senior year. An injury to starting right tackle James Williams in the first game gave Colombo an opportunity to play in the first game of his rookie season. He would go on to play in the five games as a reserve. In true Bears fashion, his first highlight as a rookie would be a blocked field goal in week five against the Green Bay Packers. Following the bye week, the massive Massachusetts native would start the next five games at left tackle. During his fifth start, the promising rookie would severely injure his left knee; dislocating the left patella and suffering femoral nerve damage.
Good thing for Colombo the size of his heart matches the size of his frame. Rehabbing intensely for almost exactly two years, he would finally play again on November 14, 2004. In a triumphant return, he would have his second career blocked field goal.
Working his way back into the starting lineup, Colombo was the opening day starter for the 2005 season. After playing well in the season opener, he was a surprising cut.
Signing with Dallas on Nov. 1 of 2005, Marc Colombo has been a staple on the Cowboys’ offensive line ever since; starting every game at right tackle since the 2006 season opener.
Jumping to the third round, the Bears would use picks #72 and #93 on two players from the south, corner back Roosevelt Williams and offensive lineman Terrence Metcalf, respectively.
Williams was considered the best cover corner coming out of college in ’02. Receiving All American Honors and first team SIAC honors all four years at Tuskegee University. He would play in 13 games as a rookie, starting two. The Bears decided to let Williams go during his sophomore season; he was quickly picked up by the Cleveland Browns. Not working out in Cleveland either, Williams would trry out for the Washington Redskins and New York Jets before finally bowing out of the NFL and finding a home north of the border. He would play for the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League from 2006-2007 before leaving football all together.
The second offensive lineman out of the first three picks, Metcalf was a serviceable member of the Bears for several years. He would play in 78 games over a seven year span, mostly coming off the bench filling in for which ever lineman was out; playing every position of the line except center. Unfortunately his NFL career would bottom out in 2008 after testing positive for steroids and receiving a four game suspension from the league. He would return to the Bears after his suspension but never line up in a game again. He was released after ’08 and had a brief stint with the Detroit Lions. Metcalf is currently a free agent searching for a new NFL franchise.
Arguably, Angelo’s first draft can be labeled a success simply because of one player. Moving up 25 slots in round four enabled our Bears to nab a defensive end out of the University of Florida, Alex Brown. A fan favorite ever since his selection; Brown plays hard every time he steps on the field. A onetime All American and three time All SEC while a Gator, Brown still holds the all time sack record at Florida with 33.
Playing in 15 games as a rookie, starting nine of the last 10 games, Brown would continue his trend and start 66 straight games after his rookie year. After helping the Bears to division titles in 2005 and 2006, Brown received Pro Bowl alternate honors and one vote for NFL Defensive Player of the Year in ’05.
With promising rookie Mark Anderson gaining the starting right defensive end spot to start the 2007 season, Brown was reduced to playing a reserve role for the first 14 games. Though not happy with the decision, Brown was the consummate teammate and took it all in stride. Playing hard when he did get playing time, he would win back the starting job for the final two games of the season. In those final two games, Brown recorded two sacks, one interception, four pass break-ups, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and 11 tackles. He was the only player on the Bears roster that year to record a sack, interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery. He has not missed a start since.
With two picks in the fifth round, the Bears would look to add youth to the defense. With the 140th pick, the Bears chose safety Bobby Gray. Starting 13 games in four years, Gray’s NFL career seemed to end just as it was starting to begin. After playing in 26 games from ’03-’04, Gray missed the entire 2005 season due to injury and never played pro football again. Like his fifth round counterpart, pick #165 would have a short NFL playing career as well. Outside linebacker Bryan Knight played only two years for the Bears. In that short time, he did play in all games but one. He was cut after the ’03 season and tried to catch on with the Carolina Panthers. He was released by the Panthers after training camp in 2004.
The Bears sixth round pick was familiar with Chicago Bears tradition before he was ever drafted by the team. Winning college football’s Division 1-AA Walter Payton award, an award handed out to the most outstanding offensive football player, running back from Georgia Southern, Adrian Peterson.
Peterson still holds the Division 1-AA or now, the Division 1 Football Championship, career rushing yards including playoffs total with 9,145. A major contributor for the Bears since his rookie season, Peterson has been a dependable, versatile teammate for seven years. Filling in when ever and where ever it is needed, Peterson is a coach’s dream; humble, tough, and ready when called upon.
Peterson, along with Alex Brown, are the only members of the 2002 draft still on the Bears roster.
After selecting Peterson with their first of three picks in the 6th round, the Bears would continue to try and build the offense. Pick 203 was used on Jamin Elliott, a wide receiver that never caught a ball in an NFL game. After his rookie year, Elliott would land with the New England Patriots, only to return one year later to the Bears practice squad. In 2005, the University of Delaware product would change leagues and make the roster of the Arena League’s Georgia Force. A strong showing in the semi-pro league gave way to a tryout with the Atlanta Falcons and a one year deal. He only played in one NFL game and is currently back as a leading receiver for the Force.
Due to the loss of certain players to free agency, the Bears were awarded with compensatory pick #210. With that pick, the Bears took a chance on tight end Bryan Fletcher. The league should have kept their pick. Fletcher never made the Bears active roster and was released after the ’04 season. He made it onto the Indianapolis Colts where he has started 18 games in three years and won a Super Bowl title in 2006, beating the very team that drafted him.