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Notable Bears first-round draft picks


In the eighth of an eight-part series, we take a look at the most notable first-round draft picks in Bears history.*

The top first-round draft picks in Bears history feature eight Hall of Famers and nine starters from the 1985 Super Bowl XX championship team.

The Hall of Famers include Joe Stydahar (1936), Sid Luckman (1939), Clyde "Bulldog" Turner (1940), Mike Ditka (1961), Dick Butkus (1965), Gale Sayers (1965), Walter Payton (1975) and Dan Hampton (1979).

Brian Urlacher (2000) no doubt will become the Bears' ninth Hall of Fame first-round pick when he becomes eligible to be enshrined in Canton.

A look at some of the most notable draft picks in Bears history who were selected in the first round.

Stydahar was the first draft pick in Bears history, selected with the sixth overall selection in the first NFL Draft. The West Virginia product played all nine of his NFL seasons with the Bears, though his career was interrupted by World War II.

Stydahar was named All-NFL at left tackle for four straight seasons from 1937-40. He helped the Bears win NFL titles in 1940 and '41 before leaving to serve in the war in 1943. Stydahar returned to the Bears in 1945 and helped them win another championship in 1946.

Luckman not only led the Bears to four NFL titles during 12 seasons with the team from 1939-50, but he played a key role in revolutionizing pro football by helping to introduce the "T" formation.

Luckman was voted All-NFL five times, led the NFL in touchdown passes three times and was named league MVP in 1943. He was selected to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1940s and threw a league-record seven TD passes in a 1943 win over the New York Giants.

Turner also was a member of all four Bears championship teams in the 1940s, playing on both sides of the ball at center and linebacker. He was named All-NFL six times. Turner led the league with eight interceptions at linebacker in 1942, ran for a 48-yard touchdown as an emergency running back in 1944 and returned an interception 96 yards for a TD in 1947.

Before he became "Da Coach" in the 1980s, Ditka was one of the NFL's greatest tight ends. Ditka was voted to five Pro Bowls in six seasons with the Bears from 1961-66, catching 316 passes for 4,503 yards and 34 TDs. He remains the Bears' all-time leader in all three of those categories among tight ends and was the first tight end inducted into the Hall of Fame in1988.


Legendary running back Walter Payton set 27 Bears records and had his No. 34 retired.

Butkus and Sayers were chosen with the third and fourth picks, respectively, in the 1965 draft.

Butkus was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first eight NFL seasons. He was also selected All-NFL seven times. One of the most ferocious defenders to ever play the game, Butkus remains the Bears' all-time leader with 25 fumble recoveries.

Like Butkus, Sayers had a remarkable career that was cut short by injuries. In edging Butkus for the NFL Rookie of the Year Award in 1965, Sayers set an NFL record with 22 touchdowns and tied another mark by scoring six TDs in an unforgettable performance against the 49ers.

Sayers set 23 Bears records and seven NFL marks during his career and was the youngest player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame at age 34 in 1977.

Payton is widely considered the best player in Bears history and among the top running backs of all time. He spent his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bears from 1975-87, missing just one game and retiring as the league's all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards.

Payton was voted to nine Pro Bowls—second to Mike Singletary's 10 in Bears history—set 27 Bears records and had his No. 34 retired. "Sweetness" also threw eight touchdown passes and led the NFL in kickoff returns as a rookie in 1975 with a 31.7-yard average.

Hampton played all 12 of his NFL seasons with the Bears from 1979-90. He was voted to four Pro Bowls—two at defensive end and two at defensive tackle—and named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1980s. Hampton ranks third in Bears history with 82.0 sacks.

In addition to Payton and Hampton, seven other starters on the 1985 championship team were selected by the Bears in the first round of the draft: linebacker Otis Wilson (1980), tackle Keith Van Horne (1981), quarterback Jim McMahon (1982), tackle Jim Covert (1983), receiver Willie Gault (1983), linebacker Wilber Marshall (1984) and defensive tackle William Perry (1985).

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