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Hester, Forte among top second-rounders


Devin Hester and Matt Forte, who return to Halas Hall Monday to officially retire as Bears, are among the best second-round draft picks in franchise history.

The list is topped by Hall of Fame middle linebackers Mike Singletary and Bill George and also includes cornerback Charles Tillman, fullback Rick Casares, and safeties Richie Petitbon and Mike Brown.

Hester is considered by many to be the greatest return specialist in NFL history. During his career with the Bears, he became the league's all-time leader with 18 kick return touchdowns and 13 punt return TDs, was voted to three Pro Bowls, won 13 special teams player of the week awards and was named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 2000s.

While playing for the Bears, Hester also tied Hall of Famer Deion Sanders' career record of 19 return touchdowns—which includes punts, kickoffs, missed field goals, fumbles and interceptions—a mark Hester later broke in 2014 as a member of the Falcons.

Senior writer Larry Mayer ranks the top 10 second-round draft picks in Bears history, a list that includes both Devin Hester and Matt Forte.

Forte ranks second on the Bears' all-time list behind Hall of Famer Walter Payton in rushing yards (8,602), receptions (487), receiving yards by a running back (4,116), yards from scrimmage (12,718), 100-yard rushing games (24) and games with at least 150 yards from scrimmage (25).

Forte led the Bears in rushing for eight straight seasons from 2008-15, the longest stretch since Payton was the team's top rusher for 12 consecutive seasons from 1975-86.

Singletary was voted to a Bears-record 10 Pro Bowls in 12 seasons. A key member of the 1985 Super Bowl championship team, he was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 and 1988 and was voted to the league's All-Decade Team for the 1980s.

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. He was voted to the league's All-Decade Team for the 1950s and was a member of the 1963 Bears championship squad.

Tillman played 12 seasons with the Bears from 2003-14. He was part of a dominant defense that helped the team win three NFC North titles and one conference championship. He set franchise 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.

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.

Casares was selected to five straight Pro Bowls, led the NFL in rushing with 1,126 yards in 1956 and left the Bears following the 1964 season as their all-time leading rusher with 5,657 yards.

Petitbon was chosen to four Pro Bowls and was voted first-team All-Pro in 1963 when he helped lead the Bears to the NFL championship. His 37 interceptions are second most in team history behind fellow safety Gary Fencik, who had 38.

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. He returned interceptions for touchdowns in overtime to win back-to-back games against the 49ers and Browns in 2001 and was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2005.

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