The staff here at Windy City Gridiron thought that we would pass the slow portion of the offseason by holding a fantasy draft where every single player in franchise history was available but only their Bears career would be what the draftee is getting.
Now that the draft is over, each writer is going to make the case for their own team and then you, dear reader, will vote on which team you think is best.
As a refresher here is a link to everyone’s team and the pick-by-pick draft so you can see what I’m up against. But there’s no need to. My team is best.
The rules were simple and straightforward: Build the best team of players using only their Bears career. If they were good for the Bears, they will be good for your team. For example, Cedric Benson was bad on the Bears but good for the Bengals. If someone had taken him, they would only be getting the Bears Benson.
We’re assuming that players that were the best of the best in the 1920s would translate to the modern game with modern medicine and modern training techniques.
So with all that, it’s time to meet my team, which I’ve named House of Bears.
QB: Mitch Trubisky
RB: Walter Payton
FB: Roland Harper
WRs: Marty Booker, Ken Kavanaugh, Dennis McKinnon
TE: Ryan Wetnight
OL: John Tait, Mark Bortz, Mike Pyle, Roberto Garza, Bob Wetoska
DL: Ed O’Bradovich, Steve ‘Mongo’ McMichael, Wally Chambers, Israel Idonije
LBs: Wilber Marshall, Barry Minter, Rosevelt Colvin
CBs: Jerry Azumah, Terry Schmidt
S: Gary Fencik, Corey Graham
K: Mac Percival
P: Maury Buford
LS: Patrick Mannelly*
* Mannelly is all-time long snapper for everyone
Selecting second overall was a blessing and a curse. I had top talent available with the second selection but then I had a long, long wait between picks with the snake-style we did.
I tried to employ a BPA strategy but then shifted to a positional depth mentality, trying to target players early where I knew there were less players to choose from later.
This is why I took Mitchell Trubisky in the second round (second QB off the board). While some might say it’s a reach or I’m taking based on potential, I say, there’s really only three QBs in Bears history worth taking: Luckman (taken first), McMahon and Trubisky.
Sure, Jay Cutler is statistically the best QB in Bears history but he’s only good enough to get you beat. I’ll take the unproven Trubisky because of his tools and because he has weapons like, I don’t know, the greatest football player that ever lived in Walter Payton to surround him.
On the outside he has the speedy Kavanaugh (who averaged 22.4 YPR in the 1940s and stands 6’3” proving he could play in any era) and the sure-handed Booker. Dennis McKinnon adds a nice element of speed in his own right (15.5 YPR). Wetnight is actually sixth in Bears history among TEs for receiving yards, so despite lacking in gaudy numbers he was at least a steady presence.
Once the draft wore on and HOFers came harder to find, I employed Pro-Football-Reference’s Career AV metric to help me find lesser-valued flashy players that had good careers.
This led me to defensive players such as Schmidt (51 AV, 26 career INTs), Wetoska (50 AV similar to Adewale Ogunleye and Jim McMahon) and Mike Pyle (57 AV, similar to Bill George and Tom Thayer).
Running a 4-3 defense was kind of a no-brainer, the Bears have employed a 4-3 system for the vast majority of their history (always, in fact, until Vic Fangio). I picked some LBs that can still blitz though (Marshall, Colvin). However, I’m not sure how much help my DL made up of legends McMichael and OB would need.
Some might look at my team and say ‘well you only have one Hall of Famer’ but I would retort and say that I pilfered the Hall of Very Good, McMichael, OB and Marshall can all make cases for being HOF, while the OL features three champions (Pyle, Wetoska on the ‘63 team and Bortz on the ‘85 team) and two other that played in multiple playoff games and a Super Bowl in their own right (Tait and Garza).
That line is going to open massive running lanes for Payton, assisted by Harper who could run and catch very well himself (4.0 career YPC, 992 yds. in 1978 and 128 career catches).
This team can grid teams down in the run game and then play action down the field to Kavanaugh and McKinnon. Imagine a read option or RPO package with Payton, Kavanugh and Trubisky. How do you attack that?
On defense there’s a fantastic mix of run stoppers and pass rushers as well as ballhawks. I haven’t even mentioned Gary Fencik until now and his 38 career INTs and 101 career AV (one of just eight Bears with a career AV over 100).
Oh and there’s another thing to note: My team has three of those eight with 100+ Approximate Value: Walter Payton (168), McMichael (120) and Fencik. Only one other team has two.
That’s my case and I ask that you to consider my team for being the champion but even if you don’t, please don’t vote for Jack’s team. With all due respect to Brian Urlacher, whom I love and is definitely one of the best Bears defenders ever, but how could Walter Payton not be the No. 1 selection in an all-time Bears draft?