Let’s take a look at the Bears top three picks in the drafts from 2000-2008. Any of the more recent ones isn’t fair, gotta give guys time to develop.
2000 - Brian Urlacher, Mike Brown, Dez White
1st Round: Bears pick up the face of the franchise with their number one pick. His play speaks for itself and he was a great choice at number nine overall.
2nd Round: Mike Brown may be off the team now but he was a game-changer who solidified the secondary and always was making huge plays. Injuries got the better of him but still a great pick.
3rd Round: Dez White never really caught on in Chicago and after a few brief stints with other teams he is gone and forgotten. No one in that area of the draft was really successful but some big names left on the board at that point are the likes of Marc Bulger, Adewale Ogunleye, Dante Hall, and of course Tom Brady.
2001 - David Terrell, Anthony Thomas, Mike Gandy
1st Round: David Terrell was a huge bust and never could live up to the number 8 production expectations. He was below average and off the team quickly. Some big names left the board immediately after him, including Dan Morgan, Santana Moss, Steve Hutchinson, Casey Hampton, Deuce McAllister, Todd Heap, and Reggie Wayne. There was also Drew Brees, Kyle Vanden Bocsh, and Chad Johnson still lingering into the early second round.
2nd Round: Anthony Thomas started out great with a rookie season where he broke 1k yards. He was a quality pick if the injuries hadn’t gotten ahold of him and just an unlucky player. Some notables who were still there in the second round include: Kris Jenkins, Matt Light, and Shaun Rodgers. Interestingly enough the Bears could use all three at the moment.
3rd Round: The Bears picked up Mike Gandy to help offensive line and never amounted to much, only spending 4 years with the Bears. Perhaps the speedy Steve Smith would have been a better choice.
2002 - Marc Colombo, Roosevelt Williams, Terrence Metcalf
1st Round: Marc Colombo never did anything in Chicago, but later became a staple of the Cowboys big offensive line for years. Perhaps he could have had success in Chicago or maybe not, either way it was a wasted pick for the Bears. Clinton Portis was still available and obviously has had a very successful career with Denver and Washington.
3rd Round: Roosevelt Williams, who? Exactly. While only a rounder the Bears would have been better off choosing someone like Brian Westbrook, who stayed on the board until 19 spots later.
3rd Round: Terrence Metcalf has been serviceable at times, but that’s more due to the inept offensive line. Chris Hope was snatched up a few choices later and would have been a smarter choice looking back. Not a horrible pick by any means though.
2003 - Michael Haynes, Rex Grossman, Charles Tillman, Lance Briggs
1st Round: Michael Haynes is a name not many Bears fan like to hear. Owning the 14th overall choice the Bears jumped on the defensive end from Penn State, only to be disappointed with a player who never amounted to anything and stayed with the Bears only three years. One of the greatest defensive players in the league was picked up two slots down, the long haired Samoan, Troy Polamalu.
1st Round: The Bears owned two first round choices and managed to mess them both up. Here they grabbed Florida QB, Sexy Rexy. Sure he was there when the Bears reached the Super Bowl in 2006, but he was more along for the ride as the defense was the reason the Bears could accomplish such a feat. Some notables who the Bears could have picked up instead include: Willis McGahee, Dallas Clark, Larry Johnson, and Nnamdi Asomugha. Yes the Bears had a chance at Nnamdi and instead we landed Rex Grossman.
2nd Round: Here the Bears somewhat make up for the two busts with a quality corner in the second. Peanut Tillman has been a fixture in the defense for years and the only problem is we can’t find someone to play opposite him. John Madden himself said Tillman was the best stripper in the NFL. Lets hope he’s talking about fumbles, the Adrian Peterson kind.
3rd Round: Had to include a fourth choice purely because of how amazing a player Briggs has been. The Bears may not have the third linebacker they need but Urlacher and Briggs make for an effective duo and together make one of the best linebacking crews in the NFL. He’s a playmaker.
2004 - Tommie Harris, Tank Johnson, Bernard Berrian
1st Round: Tommie Harris may have been recently cut, but he was a monster force at the DT position before his injuries and was a major help in the Super Bowl run of 2006. Steven Jackson and Chris Snee were both available but Harris was a quality choice.
2nd Round: A bust who couldn’t stay out of a trouble. The Bears would have been better off picking up someone like Greg Jones who could have secured the fullback position (though useless now with Martz system). Or perhaps if they wanted back to back defensive tackle they could have chosen a Pro Bowler who the Cardinals picked up, Darnell Dockett.
3rd Round: Berrian is off catching passes for the rival Vikings, but lucky for the Bears he isn’t catching to many. A fast wide receiver who never was to much of a threat. The Grossman to Berrian hook-up was fun while it lasted but the Bears would have been wiser choosing someone like Chris Cooley or Jared Allen, both were available.
2005 - Cedric Benson, Mark Bradley, Kyle Orton
1st Round: Just hurts to know we could have chosen someone else and just kept Thomas Jones at running back. TJ was a great RB but him and Benson never meshed, and Benson never ran well once Jones left. Sure he was successful for the Bengals, but that means nothing to the Bears who could have picked up Shawne Merriman, DeMarcus Ware, Jammal Brown, Aaron Rodgers, Roddy White, Heath Miller, or Logan Mankins. All Pro Bowlers chosen in the first round after Benson.
2nd Round: Mark was an okay choice, but couldn’t stay healthy and get onto the field enough to be worthy of his high second round choice. The Bears would have been MUCH better off with someone like.. say Lofa Tatupu, Nick Collins, Vincent Jackson, Frank Gore, or even OJ Atogwe. Bears could use each and everyone of those players with maybe the exception of Gore. Bradley just never really did much with his time in Chicago.
4th Round: The Bears had no third rounder and in the fourth picked up Kyle Orton. I was never an Orton hater and thought with time he could manage till the Bears found their franchise guy. He helped us get Cutler and have no problem with him as a draft choice. Later on the Bears picked up Chris Harris who turned into quite the safety.
2006 - Danieal Manning, Devin Hester, Dusty Dvoracek
2nd Round: Danieal Manning is an average safety and a dangerous return man. While he may not be resigned this off-season that doesn’t change the fact he’s been a contributor. If the Bears had retained their first round pick they may have picked up DeAngelo Williams or Nick Mangold, both great players at their respective positions. If I had to choose someone else over Manning it would have been Greg Jennings who the Packers picked up a few slots later.
2nd Round: Doesn’t matter who else was available, Devin Hester is a dynamic player who can change the game in a single player. He’s always a threat to score and was the right choice for a second rounder. Sure Maurice Jones-Drew was available, I’d still take Mr. Anytime.
3rd Round: Dusty Dvoracek is a name you may no recognize, but he could have been one hell of a player. He was marred by injuries and eventually let go, but Urlacher sang praises often saying he was the player he missed most because of how he ate up blocks and made Brian’s job easier. If the Bears had to choose someone else in a re-draft I’d hope for Brandon Marshall.
2007 - Greg Olsen, Dan Bazuin, Garrett Wolfe, Michael Okwo
1st Round: Greg Olsen is a definite contributor and has improved his run-blocking skills greatly since the Bears picked him up. If the Bears had to choose someone else in that slot, Zach Miller would have been a good choice for tight end. A couple others who were still available were Sidney Rice and Lamarr Woodley.
2nd Round: Dan Bazuin was a bust of a pick and never did anything in Chicago. Marshal Yanda would have been a good pick-up and could help the now depleted offensive line.
3rd Round: Garrett Wolfe pulls his weight (which isn’t much) on special teams and often leads the team in tackles for special teams. For a third rounder he’s a decent pick-up. The very next choice the Bears picked Michael Okwo, a perpetual special teamer. The Bears could have switched one of these guys for Daniel Sepulveda, who could be the eventual replacement for an aging Brad Manyard. Perhaps to continue the special team replacement theme, the Bears could have chosen Zak DeOssie to replace the great Bears long snapper, Patrick Mannelly. Mannelly is a great player and looks to remain the long snapper for years, but will eventually need to be replaced.
2008 - Chris Williams, Matt Forte, Earl Bennett
1st Round: The jury is still out for Chris Williams on whether or not he will be the franchise’s left tackle. He performed best at left tackle during the tail end of the 2009 season but sustained to many injuries to stay there. He eventually came in at left guard and played well enough, but the offensive line still wasn’t even average. Hopefully Williams will live up to expectations and be a franchise tackle, but until then we will sit and watch. Jeff Otah was still on the board and could have been the choice over Williams. Otah has enjoyed success with Carolina.
2nd Round: Matt Forte was an exceptional pick who was expected to come off a little later. He can handle being the feature back and excels in pass protection as well as catching the ball out of the backfield. A great pick-up.
3rd Round: Earl Bennett has good chemistry with Cutler and is very dependable on third down. While he may never be a number one receiver he’s still a great slot guy. The speedy Jamaal Charles was still available and probably the only alternative in that area, Charles/Forte combo would give defensive coordinators headaches.
Overall the Bears seem to be on and off with their picks, never consistently picking up long term starters. If they hope to contend with the defending champion Green Bay Packers they’ll need to strike gold with their picks in the 2011 NFL Draft. They need offensive line help as well as a force at defensive tackle or a talented corner to play opposite Charles Tillman. Some prospects for the first round include Mike Pouncey, Anthony Castonzo, Corey Liuget, Muhammad Wilkerson, Gabe Carimi, Derek Sherrod, or Nate Solder.