Skip to main content
Website header - Chicago
Advertising | The Official Website of the Chicago Bears

Bears Draft Primer

Bears boast history of steals late in NFL Draft


The Bears unearthed a hidden gem in the fifth round of last year's draft in Darnell Mooney, who set a franchise record for most receptions for a rookie wide receiver with 61 while generating 631 yards and four touchdowns.

But Mooney isn't the first draft steal in Bears history. In fact, he's only the latest in a long line that began in the very first NFL Draft in 1936. Here are some of Bears' most noteworthy late-round selections, listed in chronological order:

Danny Fortmann, guard (1936 ninth round)

Fortmann played his entire NFL career with the Bears from 1936-43. He was named first-team All-Pro seven straight seasons, was voted to the NFL All-Decade Team for the 1930s and helped the Bears win three NFL championships. Fortmann was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1965.

George Blanda, quarterback/kicker (1949 12th round)

Blanda spent the first 10 seasons of his NFL record 26-year career with the Bears from 1949-58. He exited as the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 541 points, but now ranks fifth. Blanda was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1981.

Joe Fortunato, linebacker (1952 seventh round)

Fortunato was voted to five Pro Bowls in 12 seasons with the Bears from 1955-66 and was named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1950s. He was a key member of the 1963 NFL Championship team. Fortunato recorded 16 interceptions and 22 fumble recoveries during his career.

Stan Jones, guard (1953 fifth round)

Jones played 12 of his 13 NFL seasons with the Bears from 1954-65. He was voted to seven Pro Bowls and was a three-time first-team All-Pro. He was a key member of the Bears' 1963 championship squad and was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 1991.

Harlon Hill, receiver (1954 15th round)

Hill played eight of his 10 NFL seasons with the Bears from 1954-61. He was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three years and remains second on the Bears' all-time receiving list with 4,616 yards and 40 touchdowns. Hill led the league in TD receptions in each of his first two seasons with 12 in 1954 and nine in 1955.

J.C. Caroline, defensive back (1956 seventh round)

Caroline played 10 seasons with the Bears from 1956-65. He had 24 career interceptions, tied for eighth in franchise history with Doug Buffone. The Illinois product was voted to the Pro Bowl in his first season with the Bears in 1956 after leading the team with six interceptions. He spent one season in the CFL before joining the Bears.

Johnny Morris, receiver (1958 12th round)

Morris played his entire NFL career with the Bears from 1958-67. He remains the franchise's all-time leading receiver with 5,059 yards. He was a key member of the 1963 championship team and was voted All-Pro in 1964 when he led the NFL in all three main receiving categories with 93 receptions, 1,200 yards and 10 TDs.

Mike Pyle, center (1961 seventh round)

Pyle, a Chicago area native who attended New Trier High School, played his entire nine-year NFL career with his hometown team from 1961-69. Pyle anchored the Bears offensive line and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1963.

Ed O'Bradovich, defensive end (1962 seventh round)

Known by younger generations as a fiery Bears postgame radio host, O'Bradovich displayed that same temperament on the field for 10 seasons from 1962-71. He made a key play in the 1963 NFL title game against the Giants, intercepting a Y.A. Tittle pass and returning it 10 yards to the New York 14 to set up the winning touchdown. Like Pyle, O'Bradovich was a local product who attended Proviso East High School and the University of Illinois.

Dick Gordon, receiver (1965 seventh round)

Gordon played seven seasons in Chicago from 1965-71 and ranks 11th on the team's all-time receiving list with 3,550 yards and 14th with 238 receptions. The last Bears player to lead the NFL in receptions with 71 in 1970, Gordon was voted to back-to-back Pro Bowls in 1970-71.

Doug Plank, safety (1975 12th round)

A physical, hard-hitting safety, Plank played his entire NFL career with the Bears from 1975-82, starting 96 of 101 games played. The famed "46" defense was named after Plank's jersey number.

Roland Harper, fullback (1975 17th round)

Chosen with the Bears' final selection in the 1975 draft, Harper played his entire NFL career in Chicago from 1975-82. A perfect complement to superstar Walter Payton, Harper was an excellent blocker. But he could also run with the ball, rushing for 3,044 yards and 15 touchdowns in his career, including 992 yards and six TDs in 1978.

Richard Dent, defensive end (1983 eighth round)

Dent played 12 of his 15 NFL seasons with the Bears and remains the franchise's all-time leader with 124.5 sacks. He was a key member of the 1985 Bears championship defense and was named MVP of Super Bowl XX. Dent was enshrined in the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Mark Bortz, guard (1983 eighth round)

Chosen 16 spots behind Dent, Bortz played his entire NFL career with the Bears from 1983-94. The two-time Pro Bowler was a converted college defensive tackle who was part of some of the best offensive lines in NFL history. Bortz appeared in 13 postseason games, the most by any player in Bears history.

Shaun Gayle, safety (1984 10th round)

Gayle spent 11 of his 12 NFL seasons with the Bears from 1984-94, appearing in 144 games with 92 starts. Before serving as a regular starter from 1989-94, he contributed primarily on special teams.

Charles Leno Jr., left tackle (2014 seventh round)

Leno was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2018 when he helped the Bears win the NFC North with a 12-4 record. He's been very durable throughout his career, having started 93 straight games dating back to Week 4 of the 2015 season when he was promoted to the No. 1 offense.

Jordan Howard, running back (2016 fifth round)

Howard became the first Bears player to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons. He was voted to the Pro Bowl as a rookie after finishing second in the NFL in rushing with 1,313 yards and then followed with 1,122 yards in 2017.

Related Content