Last year outside linebacker Leonard Floyd became the 17th player the Bears have selected with a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft in the Super Bowl era. Below is my ranking of the top 10. (Note: Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers were chosen in 1965, before the Super Bowl era.)
(1) Walter Payton, RB (4th overall in 1975)
There's no question that Sweetness deserves to be at the top of the list. He played 13 illustrious seasons with the Bears, setting 16 NFL records and 27 team marks. Payton was voted to nine Pro Bowls, retired as the league's all-time leading rusher with 16,726 yards and missed only one game during his entire career. His No. 34 was retired by the Bears and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993.
(2) Brian Urlacher, MLB (9th in 2000)
Considered Hampton here. But Urlacher was the face of the Bears franchise for over a decade, playing his entire 13-year NFL career with the Monsters of the Midway, just like Payton. A safety in college, Urlacher brought rare speed and athleticism to the middle linebacker position. He was voted to eight Pro Bowls, was a four-time first-team All-Pro selection and was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 2005.
Senior writer Larry Mayer ranks the 10 best players selected by the Bears with a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft over the last 50 years.
(3) Dan Hampton, DL (4th in 1979)**
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. Hampton and Hall of Fame quarterback Sid Luckman are the only two Bears in play in three different decades with the team.
(4) Jim McMahon, QB (5th in 1982)
The Punky QB known as McMahon was a brash leader on the 1985 championship team, earning a trip to the Pro Bowl after helping guide the famed '85 Bears to a 16-1 record and a 46-10 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. McMahon posted a 46-15 record as a Bears starter over seven seasons, completing 57.8 percent of his passes for 11,203 yards with 67 touchdowns, 56 interceptions and an 80.4 passer rating.
(5) Wally Chambers, DT (8th in 1973)
A key member of the Bears defense during the mid-1970s, Chambers was voted NFL defensive player of the year and was selected to three Pro Bowls. The 6-6, 250-pounder was named first-team All-Pro in 1976, but he suffered a serious knee injury that limited him to four games in 1977. Chambers was traded to the Buccaneers for the fourth pick in the 1979 draft that the Bears spent on Hampton.
(6) Jim Covert, OT (6th in 1983)
A mauler from the University of Pittsburgh who protected quarterback Dan Marino in college, Covert anchored some of the best offensive lines in NFL history during the mid-1980s. He helped the Bears lead the NFL in rushing four straight seasons from 1983-86 and win five straight NFC Central titles from 1984-88, one conference championship and one Super Bowl. Covert played nine seasons with the Bears, starting 110 games.
(7) Mark Carrier, S (6th in 1990)
The hard-hitting safety from USC had one of the best rookie seasons in Bears history, establishing a single-season team record that still stands with a league-leading 10 interceptions in 1990. Carrier was named NFL defensive rookie of the year and was voted to three Pro Bowls in seven seasons with the Bears, recording 20 interceptions, 10 forced fumbles and seven fumble recoveries while starting 105 games.
(8) Curtis Conway, WR (7th in 1993)
The speedy star from USC became the first receiver in Bears history to post back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, compiling 1,037 yards on 62 catches in 1995 and 1,049 yards on 81 receptions in 1996. Conway played his first seven NFL seasons with the Bears. He's tied for fourth on the club's all-time list with 329 receptions and ranks fifth with 4,498 yards.
(9) Al Harris, DL (9th in 1979)
Harris is probably best known for sitting out the 1985 championship season due to a contract dispute. But the tall-and-rangy defensive lineman appeared in 117 games with 67 starts over nine seasons with the Bears, recording 18.5 sacks and recovering eight fumbles.
(10) Dennis Lick, OT (8th in 1976)
The Chicago native from St. Rita High School played six seasons for his hometown team, appearing in 79 games with 74 starts. Lick started all 62 games at right tackle from 1977-80, opening holes for Payton and helping the Bears reach the playoffs in 1977 and '79.
Didn't make the cut:
Lionel Antoine, OT (3rd in 1972)
Waymond Bryant, LB (4th in 1974)
Curtis Enis, RB (5th in 1998)
David Terrell, WR (8th in 2001)
Cedric Benson, RB (4th in 2005)
Too soon to judge:
Kevin White, WR (7th in 2015)
Floyd, OLB (9th in 2016)