10 Biggest Draft Mistakes in Chicago Bears History
As the 2012 NFL draft is this month, it may be a bad time to bring up past draft failures. But hey, they say you learn from mistakes, so if that's true, the Bears have a lot to learn from.
To be fair, none of these mistakes were made by current Bears GM Phil Emery, though he could have been with the team during one or two of the picks. Still, he has nowhere to go but up compared with these draft busts.
As is the case with all NFL teams, the Chicago Bears' history is littered with first-round picks that never fulfilled their lofty expectations. In fact, some have been complete busts.
Hopefully, 2012 will be the start of a new trend in Bears history. After all, Emery's skills in evaluation and player development is a big reason why he was hired to replace Jerry Angelo.
There have been many proud moments in the history of this storied franchise, but this slideshow contains absolutely none of those moments. Cringe if you must, but let's take a look at 10 first-round selections that the team wishes it hadn't made.
Thierry was the 11th-overall pick in the 1994 draft, when Dave Wannstedt took the linebacker from 1-AA Alcorn State with the intention of turning him into a defensive end. Wannstedt claimed that Thierry could be "the next Charles Haley."
Um, that didn't quite happen.
Thierry was a bust who never started more than nine games in a season or registered more than four sacks with the blue and orange. The problem simply was that Wannstedt was a terrible talent evaluator, and Thierry played against weaker competition.
Cornerback Aaron Glenn, who made three Pro Bowls, was the next selection following the Bears' pick. Todd Steussie was an offensive tackle who went with the 19th pick and had a nice career. Wideout Isaac Bruce was also on the board, as he didn't go until the second round.
After being run out of town following the 1998 season, Thierry wound up in Cleveland, then Green Bay, where he posted better numbers in both cities than he ever did in Chicago. To this day, his name is synonymous with the failure that was Wannstedt.
Salaam was the 21st pick in the 1995 draft. He did have a decent rookie season as he topped 1,000 yards rushing, which was a record for a Bears rookie at the time. However, he committed nine fumbles, which should have been a warning, as his propensity to cough up the football was part of his downfall.
The other problem was that Salaam smoked a lot of weed. He broke his leg and was released after the 1997 season. Salaam spent 1999 with the Browns and Packers, but only played in two games for the Browns that year.
It's not as if there weren't better choices on the board that draft year. Cornerback Ty Law was taken by New England just two picks after Salaam. Linebacker Derrick Brooks was drafted by Tampa Bay seven picks after Salaam.
Salaam also briefly played in the XFL, but never came close to living up to his hype. He is remembered by Bears fans as our local version of Ricky Williams, only not as good.
This fourth-overall pick of the 2005 draft had attitude problems and didn't get along with teammates. He did go on to become much better with the Bengals, with consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons in Cincinnati. But he was a bust for the Bears, as injuries and his attitude did him.
Instead of Benson, the Bears could have chosen safety Antrel Rolle—who was drafted eighth—linebackers DeMarcus Ware or Shawne Merriman, or how about QB Aaron Rodgers, who was picked 24th by the Packers?
He is remembered for being a crybaby who effectively chased Thomas Jones out of town and never earned the respect of fans or teammates, much less the millions that the Bears paid him.
Spellman was the last first-round pick of the Ditka era. This Ohio State sack artist was supposed to replace Richard Dent, but he was a bust.
Spellman was the 22nd pick in 1992 draft, but he never registered more than 8.5 sacks in one season. Spellman would disappear for stretches at a time, often going months without a sack before coming up with a good game.
After suffering from injuries and ineffectiveness during the 1997 season, Spellman was released by the Bears. After sitting out the 1998 season, he played three more seasons with the Cowboys and Lions before being released in 2001.
Spellman has become known more for his erratic personality and bipolar disorder than his career as a football player.
“Physically, he's a world-beater,” Michigan center Matt Elliott said of Spellman. “Mentally, he's an egg-beater."
Robert Porcher, who was picked by Detroit with the 26th pick, would have been a better DE.
The Bears' first-round pick in 2002 (29th overall), Colombo got off to a promising start his rookie year before hurting his knee at St. Louis. He missed all of the 2003 season and most of the '04 season before returning.
After appearing in just nine games (two starts) for the Bears in 2004 and 2005, Colombo was released and caught on with the Cowboys. He started every game for Dallas from 2008-2010.
Wide receiver David Terrell was a bust of a pick in 2001. Selected out of Michigan with the eighth-overall pick, Terrell failed to learn the offense, dropped passes and complained about his role in the offense.
He was in Lovie Smith's permanent doghouse for penalties and was released after the 2004 season.
Terrell spent a year with the Broncos, but never really caught on elsewhere.
The Bears would have been better off taking Santana Moss, who went to the Jets at 16 that year, or Reggie Wayne, who lasted until pick 30. Chad Johnson was not selected until the second round.
Oh, and a kid named Drew Brees was on the board the entire first round.
The Bears had not just one, but two busts in this draft, as Haynes was the 14th pick, while QB Rex Grossman was taken with the 22nd-overall pick.
The problem with Haynes, a defensive end out of Penn State, is that he was a one-year wonder who racked up 15 sacks his senior year. After being taken by the Bears, he failed to start a single game his rookie year or challenge Alex Brown for playing time.
When Lovie Smith brought the Tampa 2 defense with him to Chicago, Haynes found himself a poor fit for the scheme. The Bears moved Haynes to defensive tackle, but he still stunk.
He was traded to the Saints after the 2005 season after starting just four games and registering only 5.5 sacks in three years. The Saints released him after just one game, and he's been out of football since 2007.
Troy Polamalu went just two picks after Haynes.
The Bears took McNown with the 12th-overall pick in the 1999 draft. He had a weak arm, bad attitude and awful mechanics.
Further, he alienated fans, media and teammates alike. He blamed the receivers and the line when he messed up. This is a guy that Bears fans point to when talk of taking a QB in the draft starts.
An utter disaster, McNown never made it with anyone else and is out of the league. Defensive end Jevon Kearse, a.k.a. "The Freak," would have been a much better pick. He went four picks after McNown.
Thomas is remembered for being a pick that then-head coach Mike Ditka thoroughly opposed. He was said to have been a pick that was selected by owner Michael McCaskey.
The 22nd-overall pick in the 1991 draft, Thomas started just seven games his rookie year, zero his second year and was released by the Bears and washed out of the NFL by year three. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ted Washington was taken just three picks after Thomas.
Brett Favre was also still on the board when Thomas was picked. So the Bears could have taken both Favre and Rodgers over the years.
In February 1992, Thomas got shot in the head coming out of a bar in California.
Enis was great as a two-year starter at Penn State and was the fifth-overall pick of the 1998 draft. To the Bears' credit, Curtis Enis was the consensus fifth-best player in the draft, and everyone agreed.
But he was a complete bust for the Bears, as he held out for a bigger contract and promptly tore his ACL in the ninth game of the season.
A comeback attempt with the Browns was not successful, and he was out of the league after 2000.
Enis was selected four spots ahead of Fred Taylor. The Bears had also been discussing taking Randy Moss with this pick. Other than the injury, Enis also had personality issues. He often acted like he was from another planet. He had fooled the Bears with an act that his former coach, Joe Paterno, knew all too well, calling Enis a "con man".
After his injury, coach Dick Jauron urged him to lose weight, and he couldn't pound the line like he did at Penn State.
Rex Grossman: Fans and media got on him bad, and he didn't respond well to it. He had his moments, but often hung onto the ball too long and threw off his back foot. The only reason he doesn't make our list is that the Bears did go to the Super Bowl with (in spite of?) him.
Rick Mirer: Mirer wasn't drafted by the Bears, but they used their first-round pick in 1997 to obtain Mirer from Seattle. Dave Wannstedt had over 1,500 passes to use as evidence that Mirer sucked, but they acquired him anyway. He was a slow learner who went 0-for-3 in three starts with a 37.7 rating, no TDs and six INTs. The Bears were outscored 78-23 with Rick at the helm.
Chris Williams: Many knew he was damaged goods when the Bears drafted him, and he had back surgery before he ever played for Chicago. He finally played decently in 2011, but you don't expect to have to wait that long for an impact from your first-round draft pick.