Some of the selections were obvious, others had plenty of competition, but regardless, if Ryan Poles has this type of success as these picks, he will be the Chicago Bears GM for very long time.
Round 1- Brian Urlacher, 9th overall, 2000
Maybe one day, this will be Justin Fields, but it certainly can’t be at this point. Urlacher is in the Hall of Fame and for good reason. He’s arguably the second-best non-edge linebacker of the last 30 years (Ray Lewis). He had incredible athleticism, a nose for the ball, and was the captain of an outstanding defense for several years.
The Bears have had some other strong first-round picks this century, like Tommie Harris, Kyle Fuller and of course Fields, but none of them come close to what Urlacher did for the Bears’ franchise.
Round 2- Devin Hester, 57th overall, 2006
I think round 2 had the stiffest competition of any round. The Bears have found plenty of gems in the second round from Charles Tillman to Matt Forte, but you have to give it to the man that is considered the greatest return man in NFL history.
Hester’s immediate impact on the field helped propel the Bears to the Super Bowl his rookie season. For a team with an outstanding defense and a lackluster offense, the Bears needed to find another way to score points and Hester was exactly that.
Hester will be headed to Canton one day. He has failed on his first two years of eligibility but with a more open window in 2024, perhaps this upcoming class could be his chance.
Round 3- Lance Briggs, 68th overall, 2003
What an interesting draft the Bears had in 2003, after missing on two first-round picks (Michael Haynes and Rex Grossman) they followed that up with Charles Tillman in round 2 and Lance Briggs in round 3.
Briggs is another no-brainer selection here. The Bears haven’t had a ton of success in round three over the years, making the Briggs selection an easy one. Briggs had an outstanding career and is a borderline hall of famer. He and Urlacher gave Chicago one of the best linebacking groups every year and that helped anchor Lovie Smith’s defense for nearly a decade.
Round 4- Eddie Jackson, 112th overall, 2017
Nathan Vasher and Alex Brown were outstanding 4th round selections, but the nod here goes to Eddie Jackson.
While Khalil Mack might have been the engine of that 2018 defense, Jackson was the spark plug. He gave the defense an electricity and made more big plays than you can count on one hand. Jackson’s nose for the ball made him one of the league’s biggest playmakers and while he may not have that same playmaking ability, he re-invented himself in 2022 and was a key member of the Bears defense.
Jackson is still a key member of the Bears defense and will anchor their secondary in 2023.
Round 5- Adrian Amos, 142nd overall, 2015
For some reason, the Chicago Bears have had plenty of success drafting in the 5th round. Braxton Jones last year. Bilal Nichols in 2018. Not to mention guys like Jordan Howard, Jordan Mills, Johnny Knox and Mark Anderson.
With all those choices, I’m still going Amos, despite only being in Chicago for four years. Amos left for Green Bay simply because the Bears didn’t have enough money to retain his services.
Amos was an underrated member of that 2018 defense. He wasn’t a dynamic playmaker but he was always in the right place at the right time and helped free up Eddie Jackson to play centerfield and make big play after big play.
Round 6- Chris Harris, 181st overall, 2005
Chris Harris stepped in and became a key member of a very good Chicago Bears defense as a rookie and second-year player, not an easy thing to do as a sixth-round pick. Harris made some plays for Lovie’s defense, including intercepting Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl, but the Bears decided to trade Harris to the Carolina Panthers after two seasons.
Harris had several very good seasons for the Panthers, earning him a contract extension with the team. Ironically, Harris was traded back to the Bears in 2010. Harris had a good season for the Bears in 2010 but faded in 2011 before he was released.
Round 7- Charles Leno, 246th overall, 2014
This one here is a no-brainer. I know many Bears fans had issues with Leno during his time in Chicago, but to find yourself a tackle in round seven who played solid football for several years is absolutely remarkable.
Leno continued his career with Washington after the Bears decided to part ways with him and he continues to start for their franchise. Leno is entering the 10th year of his career and hasn’t missed a game since he was a developing rookie in 2014.
For a position that’s very difficult to find successful players outside of round 1, the fact that Leno was drafted in round 7 and had this level of success makes him easily the best seventh-round pick the Bears have had this century.
Editor’s note: Check out Bill’s appearance on NBC Sports Chicago earlier this week.