Former Bears' First Round Picks - Where Are They Now? 1996-2000

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Well, it's not another Forte article, that's for sure. After last weeks look at the years 1990-1995, it's time to take a trip down memory lane and look at who the Bears took with their first round picks for the following 5 years. Hit the jump, and let the memories come flooding back.

1. 1996 - Walt Harris. The Bears drafted defensive back Harris with the 13th overall pick in the 1996 draft. He played his college ball at Mississippi State, where, as a senior, he was selected as a First-team All SEC, and had four interceptions on the year.

In his rookie season with the Bears, Harris started 13 games and had 113 tackles and two interceptions. Next year, he started all 16 games and ended with five picks. Up until his last season with Chicago in 2001, he was a solid player and hardly missed a game.

Harris was signed as an unrestricted free agent by the Colts in 2002, and after a year in Indy, he went on to play for Washington and San Fransisco, where, in 2009, his career virtually came to an end after tearing his ACL.

Couldn't find out too much more info on Harris, so if anyone knows what he's up to these days, then please fill us in.

2. 1997 - No first round draft pick. Chicago traded their first round pick that year to the Seahawks in exchange for the service of quarterback Rick Mirer.

He was signed to a four year $11 million contract but only ever played seven games, and started just three of those.

At the start of the 1998 season the Bears let him go and Mirer was picked up by the Packers. He never settled in one place for long and eventually ended his career on the Lion's roster.

I think it's fair to say that trading a first round pick for Mirer was not one of the smartest moves that the Bears have ever made. He finished his NFL days with a win-loss record of 24-44.

According to this blog, he is now in the wine business, and owns a vineyard.

3. 1998 - Curtis Enis. Chosen fifth overall, Enis earned All-American honours at Penn State University, where, in 1997, he rushed for 1363 yards and 19 touchdowns.

He was with the Bears for just three seasons, and was forced into an early retirement at the age of just 24, because of a worsening knee condition.

During his time in the windy city, Enis was most productive in 1999 where he rushed for 916 yards, but only scored three touchdowns, however.

After his football days were over, Enis moved into the field of law enforcement, serving as a deputy sheriff in Miami county. He lost this job due to him being accused of soliciting sex from a convenience store worker, whilst in uniform. No criminal charges were ever filed in relation to this matter.

In 2010, Enis was hired as the head football coach of Bradford high school in Ohio.

4. 1999 - Cade McNown. The Bears took UCLA quarterback, McNown with the 12th overall pick in the 1999 NFL draft. In the 1999 senior bowl, McNown was named the MVP, throwing two touchdowns on his way to leading the South team to victory.

His time in Chicago was short, playing just two seasons, and starting only 15 games.

The Bears obviously had a lot of faith in McNown, as he was the highest drafted QB since Jim McMahon. The situation quickly became something of a train wreck however, as McNown held out on his contract for most of training camp. Head coach Dick Jauron subsequently named Shane Matthews as the starter.

McNown did take over when Matthews went down injured, and managed to end his rookie season by breaking the franchise records for pass attempts and completions.

After going back and forth for the starting job with quarterback Jim Miller, the Bears realised that McNown had not lived up to their high expectations, and in 2001 he was traded to the Dolphins, who then traded him to the 49ers in 2002.

He playing days came to an end in 2003 when he nearly made the team for the Calgary Stampeders in the CFL.

According to this site, McNown is the Senior Vice President of Thompson National Properties, that deals with luxury real estate. This is indeed the case, as can be seen here, but I am not sure if he is still working there.

5. 2000 - Brian Urlacher. And at last we arrive at one of the best draft picks the Bears have ever made. Playing more as a safety at New Mexico University, Urlacher has gone on to be one of the best ever linebackers that Chicago and the NFL has ever seen. He is a sure fire hall of famer, and even as he enters the twilight of his career, he is still capable of turning in a dominating performance.

Urlacher has been with the Bears for his entire career, and apart from the 2009 season, where he played just one game, due to injury, he has started nearly every game, and put up impressive numbers. He is a leader both on and off the field, and epitomizes what it means to play the linebacker position for Chicago.

Where is he now? He is entering his 13th season in Chicago, and while many are questioning how many years he has left in the tank, Urlacher himself reckons on playing at a high level for at least two more years, providing he stays healthy.

Here's hoping he has one of his best seasons ever, and leads the Bears back to the playoffs and beyond.

Well, as always, let us know what you think of this bunch of Bears first round draft picks, and take the time to check some of the links below.

A video looking at NFL 'bust' Rick Mirer

I guess here's what the Bears saw in Curtis Enis

And here's a little Urlacher video to get you all fired up

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