The Bears have the eighth pick in the NFL Draft on April 26. Following Mike Ditka’s termination on January 5, 1993, Dave Wannstedt, Dick Jauron, Lovie Smith, Marc Trestman and John Fox have coached the Bears. In total, those five men only guided Chicago to five playoff appearances and the team has finished in the NFC North’s cellar for three consecutive seasons. More troubling from an organizational standpoint, the Bears are downtrending and haven’t qualified for the postseason since 2010.
While countless factors have caused the Bears’ enduring ineptitude, nothing has hamstrung the late George Halas’ organization more than its shoddy drafting and foolish free-agent signings. Fortunately for the fabled franchise, general manager Ryan Pace has nearly $63 million in available salary cap space and seven draft picks at his disposal this offseason. With these funds and picks, Pace must enhance the Bears’ blocking, receiving, rushing and coverage personnel. As the draft rapidly approaches, let’s rank Chicago’s three best, and three worst, first-round selections over the past quarter-century.
6. WORST: DAVID TERRELL
The Bears selected wide receiver David Terrell out of the University of Michigan with the eighth pick in 20001. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Terrell was a Bear for four seasons before he was released in March 2005. Terrell caught 128 passes for 1,602 yards and nine touchdowns in 53 contests with the Bears. Although the toothless Wolverine signed practice squad contracts with the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos, he never played in another regular season game after the age of 25. Terrell remains bitter and blames his unproductive career on the quarterbacks he teamed with in Chicago. In fact, Terrell told the Chicago Tribune that he would have gotten neutered to catch passes from former Bears quarterback Jay Cutler.
“I’d give those up, no problem,” Terrell said. “You could have neutered me. I woulda been neutered with a smile.”
5. BEST: TOMMIE HARRIS
Chicago drafted defensive tackle Tommie Harris out of the University of Oklahoma with the 14th overall selection in 2004. The 6-foot-3, 295-pound Harris was a three-time Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2005. The Bears released Harris in February 2011 after seven seasons as an employee in the Windy City. Harris retired at the age of 28 in 2012 shortly after his wife of 41 days, Ashley, died of a brain aneurysm.
4. WORST: MICHAEL HAYNES
Former defensive tackle Michael Haynes was a mammoth man and an even bigger underachiever. The Bears chose the 6-foot-3, 275-pound Haynes out of Penn State University with the 14th selection in 2003. Haynes, the 2002 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, was a Bear for three measly seasons before he got cut in March 2006. Haynes later had the audacity to blame Lovie Smith’s schemes and coaching decisions for his failure on the gridiron.
“As a result of defensive schemes, I was constantly trying to meet ever changing expectations,” Haynes told Chicago Now. “I was drafted weighing 286 pounds as a run-stopping defensive end. But when Lovie came in, he wanted me to be a speed-rushing defensive end.”
Haynes was out of the league altogether by the age of 24.
3. BEST: KYLE LONG
The Bears drafted offensive guard Kyle Long out of the University of Oregon with the 20th pick in 2013. The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Long has been a ferocious Bear and he made three consecutive Pro Bowls from 2013 through 2015. Long sustained a litany of injuries and was mainly shelved during the 2016 and 2017 campaigns. Nevertheless, the 29-year-old Long remains somewhat youthful and he has ample time to regain his bite upfront.
2. WORST: CADE MCNOWN
Former UCLA signal-caller Cade McNown coveted Hollywood glitter more than respect on the gridiron. Chicago took the 6-foot-1, 210-pound McNown 12th overall in 1999. McNown, a 1998 consensus All-American and that year’s Johnny Unitas Award winner, claimed that he abstained from sex, alcohol and drugs coming out of Westwood. The southpaw apparently changed in the Windy City and he began frequenting Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Mansion near Beverly Hills. McNown essentially trashed the Bears’ playbook and he allegedly had adult relations with Playboy Playmates Brande Roderick and Heather Kozar. Chicago’s C-level executives tired of McNown’s act and traded him to the Miami Dolphins in August 2001 for a sixth-round draft pick in 2002 and a conditional seventh-round pick in 2003. McNown never played in Miami and he was out of the sport by the age of 25.
1. BEST: BRIAN URLACHER
Brilliant middle linebacker Brian Urlacher is the Bears’ premier player since Walter Payton retired after the 1987 season. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound Urlacher, taken by Chicago out of the University of New Mexico with the ninth choice in 2000, overpowered offenses from the outset and earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. Urlacher recorded 1,353 tackles, 41.5 sacks, 22 interceptions, 90 passes defended, 11 forced fumbles and 15 fumble recoveries over 182 games as a Bear. Urlacher’s feats on the gridiron didn’t go unnoticed and he made eight Pro Bowl squads and was a member of the NFL 2000s All-Decade team. Most impressively, Urlacher became a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer in February.