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Bears Draft Primer

Bears have mined gold in second round of draft

Bill George, Mike Singletary, Devin Hester

The Bears don't own a first-round pick in this year's NFL Draft. But that doesn't mean they won't be able to land impact players with their first two selections at Nos. 39 and 48 in the second round.

Some of the best players in franchise history were drafted in the second round. The list is highlighted by Hall of Fame middle linebackers Bill George (1951) and Mike Singletary (1981) and record-breaking return specialist Devin Hester (2006).

George spent his first 14 NFL seasons with the Bears from 1952-65, setting a team record for most years played that has since been surpassed by long-snapper Patrick Mannelly (16).

George is credited with creating the middle linebacker position when he dropped back off the line of scrimmage in 1954. He was named All-NFL eight times in nine years and was selected to eight straight Pro Bowls from 1955-62.

The Wake Forest product was voted to the league's All-Decade Team for the 1950s and was a member of the 1963 Bears championship squad. His No. 61 was retired by the Bears and he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1974.

Singletary was voted to 10 Pro Bowls in 12 seasons from 1981-92, the most in franchise history. He was named NFL defensive player of the year in 1985 and '88 and was voted to the league's All-Decade Team for the 1980s.

An integral part of a dominant defense, Singletary helped lead the Bears to six NFC Central Division titles and the franchise's first Super Bowl championship. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

Hester spent his first eight NFL seasons with the Bears from 2006-13, becoming the NFL's most prolific return specialist. He rewrote the league's record book, setting all-time marks with 18 kick return touchdowns and 13 punt return TDs. And that doesn't even count his magical 92-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI.

Hester set an NFL single-season record with five kick return touchdowns as a rookie in 2006 and then eclipsed the mark the following year with six. He was named to the NFL All-Decade Team for both the 2000s and 2010s.

Some of the Bears' top playmakers over the past 20 years have been second-round picks. They include safety Mike Brown (2000), cornerback Charles Tillman (2003), running back Matt Forte (2008) and receiver Alshon Jeffery (2012).

Brown spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Bears from 2000-08, appearing in 100 games with 99 starts and recording 20 interceptions and seven defensive touchdowns, the second most in team history. Before being plagued by injury problems later in his career, Brown played in all 64 games (with 63 starts) during his first four seasons.

In 2001, Brown became the first player in league history to return interceptions for touchdowns in overtime to win back-to-back games. He was voted first-team All-Pro, helping the Bears win the NFC Central with a 13-3 record.

Tillman played 12 seasons with the Bears from 2003-14. He was part of a dominant defense that helped the Bears win three NFC North titles and one conference championship. He set team records with nine defensive touchdowns, eight interception return TDs and 675 interception return yards. His 36 interceptions are the most by a cornerback in team history and third most overall behind safeties Gary Fencik (38) and Richie Petitbon (37).

Known for smacking the ball away from opponents, a technique dubbed the "Peanut Punch," Tillman forced 42 fumbles in 12 seasons, including a career-high 10 in 2012 when he was voted to his second straight Pro Bowl.

Forte spent eight seasons with the Bears from 2008-15 and ranks second in team history behind Hall of Famer Walter Payton in rushing yards (8,602), receiving yards by a running back (4,116), yards from scrimmage (12,718), 100-yard rushing games (24), scrimmage yards per game (106.0) and games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage (25).

Forte led the Bears in rushing for eight straight years—the longest stretch since Payton was the team's top rusher for 12 consecutive seasons from 1975-86.

Jeffery was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2013 after catching 89 passes for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns and followed with 85 receptions for 1,133 yards and 10 TDs in 2014.

Jeffery ranks seventh on the Bears' all-time receiving list in catches (304), third in yards (4,549) and ninth in touchdowns (26).

Jeffery is one of five pass catchers in team history with two 1,000-yard seasons, and his 1,421 yards in 2013 are second-most in Bears single-season history. He also has recorded the two most prolific games by a Bears receiver with 249 yards against the Vikings and 218 yards versus the Saints, both in 2013 contests.

Three of the best players on the Bears' 1963 NFL championship team were second-round picks: fullback Rick Casares (1954), Petitbon (1959) and cornerback Bennie McRae (1962).

Casares spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the Bears from 1955-64. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in each of his first five years, including in 1956 when he led the NFL in all rushing categories with 1,126 yards and 12 touchdowns on 234 carries. Casares left the Bears as their all-time leading rusher with 5,657 yards, a record he held until it was broken by Payton in 1984.

Petitbon also spent his first 10 NFL seasons with the Bears from 1959-68, earning four Pro Bowl trips while starting 132 of 136 games played. He was selected first-team All-Pro for the 1963 champions after recording eight interceptions.

McRae spent nine of 10 NFL seasons with the Bears from 1962-70, compiling 27 interceptions while appearing in 125 games with 112 starts. He picked off a career-high six passes in 1963 for the championship team.

Other Bears notable second-round picks include defensive end Mike Hartenstine (1975) and fullback Matt Suhey (1980), who were both members of the 1985 Super Bowl XX championship squad.

Hartenstine spent his first 12 NFL seasons with the Bears before playing his final year with the Vikings in 1987. He appeared in 179 games with 140 starts, registering 55.0 sacks, including a career-high 12.0 in 1983.

Suhey played his entire 10-year career with the Bears, starting 100 of 148 games played. He served as Payton's lead blocker while also rushing for 2,946 yards and 20 touchdowns on 828 carries and catching 260 passes for 2,113 yards and five TDs. Suhey scored the Bears' first TD in their 46-10 rout of the Patriots in Super Bowl XX on an 11-yard run.

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With the Bears holding two second-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft, senior writer Larry Mayer ranks the top 10 Round 2 draft choices in team history.

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Larry Mayer

Bears Senior Writer

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