Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher

It goes without saying that Lance Briggs and Brian Urlacher are two of the best draft picks the Bears have ever made. (Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune / November 11, 2012)

The Bears have had some pretty awesome draft classes in the past 20 years. And some horrible ones.

THE BOTTOM THREE

1997

I don't even know where to start with this draft class. Without a first-round selection, the Bears needed to strike gold in the middle and late rounds. Let's just say they came up empty. Six of their nine picks never played in a game for the Bears, and most didn't make it past training camp. The only saving grace of this class was Marcus Robinson, who set the team record for receiving yards (1,400) in 1999. That record was broken by Brandon Marshall in 2012.

2007

This draft started so promising when the Bears selected tight end Greg Olsen in the first round, but the team's second-, third- and fourth-round picks ended up being mostly bench warmers. Three of those four picks (two from the third round) never started a game. Those four players averaged fewer than two seasons in Chicago. Fifth-round pick Kevin Payne was a pleasant surprise, starting 22 games at safety before being traded to St. Louis for a seventh-round pick.

2009

The Bears were facing an uphill battle when this draft kicked off. They traded away a first- and third-round pick, along with Kyle Orton, to Denver for Jay Cutler and an extra fifth-round selection. They used that fifth-round pick on Johnny Knox, who made one Pro Bowl appearance as a special teams player, but none of Chicago's nine picks from that year are on the team anymore. In fact, five of the nine made it a year or less with the team.

THE TOP THREE

1998

This is statistically the best draft class the Bears have had in the past 20 years. The eight players taken that year went on to average the most games, starts and seasons of any class in that time period. Center Olin Kreutz was the sole Pro Bowler (he appeared in six as a Bear), but players such as Patrick Mannelly, who has played in 245 games and is still the team's long snapper, and Tony Parrish were huge finds.

2000

Two words—BRIAN URLACHER. I mean, Mike Brown was a force in the secondary, and Dez White was a role player at receiver for a while, but Urlacher was a straight-up man beast coming out of New Mexico.

2003

Second-round pick Charles Tillman is one of the best Bears cornerbacks ever. Seven-time Pro Bowler Lance Briggs and Super Bowl quarterback Rex Grossman (yeah, that's still a little weird to say) were other highlights from this draft. The Bears had 12 picks that year, and all of them spent at least one year with the team and averaged 51 games and 36 starts between them.

 

Want more? Discuss this article and others on RedEye Sports' Facebook page