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Walter Payton headlines best draft picks for Bears

The Bears drafted Walter Payton in 1975; he still holds 27 team records. Manny Rubio/US Presswire

The Chicago Bears have selected 1,332 players in their 95-year history. Here’s a look at the best draft picks by position for the Bears.

OFFENSE

Quarterback: Sid Luckman, first round, 1939, Columbia. Luckman led the Bears to four NFL titles. The quarterback ranks second on Chicago’s all-time list for touchdown passes (137) and passing yards (14,686).

Running back: Walter Payton, first round, 1975, Jackson State. Payton retired as the NFL’s all-time leader in rushing and combined net yards. Voted to nine Pro Bowls, Payton still holds 27 Bears’ records.

Wide receiver: Johnny Morris, 12th round, 1958, UC Santa Barbara. Morris technically entered the league at halfback but also played wide receiver. Morris is the second-leading receiver (356 catches) in Bears’ history behind only Payton (492).

Tight end: Mike Ditka, first round, 1961, Pittsburgh. Ditka is the first tight end inducted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 1961 rookie of the year, Ditka -- as head coach -- later guided Chicago to 112 wins, six division titles and their only Super Bowl victory.

Tackle: Jimbo Covert, first round, 1983, Pittsburgh. Covert, along with right tackle Keith Van Horne, anchored the edges of the Bears’ offensive line throughout the Ditka era. A member of the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team, Covert was named first-team All-Pro in 1985-86.

Guard: Danny Fortmann, ninth round, 1936, Colgate. All-NFL from 1938-43. Fortmann was the league’s youngest starter, at age 20, as a rookie in 1936.

Center: Olin Kreutz, third round, 1998, Washington. Voted to six Pro Bowls, Kreutz was regarded as one of the league’s best and toughest interior linemen from 1998-2010. Kreutz also served as the unquestioned leader of Chicago’s offensive line throughout his entire career.

DEFENSE

End: Richard Dent, eighth round, 1983, Tennessee State. At the time of Dent’s retirement, he ranked third in career sacks with 137.5. The MVP of Super Bowl XX, Dent led the NFC with a team record 17.5 sacks in 1984.

Tackle: Dan Hampton, first round, 1979, Arkansas. Hampton played 12 years for the Bears and finished his career with 82 sacks. Hampton, nicknamed “Danimal,” went to four Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL’s 1980s All-Decade Team.

Linebacker: Dick Butkus, first round, 1956, Illinois. One of greatest defensive players of all-time, Butkus is one of only six Bears to earn Pro Bowl honors each of his first six seasons. A ferocious tackler who struck fear into the hearts of his opponents. Mike Singletary and Brian Urlacher receive honorable mentions at this positions.

Cornerback: Charles Tillman, second round, 2003, Louisiana-Lafayette. Tillman left the Bears as the club’s all-time leader in defensive touchdowns (nine), interception return touchdowns (eight) and interception return yards (675). Tillman’s 36 interceptions are third in team history. He also forced 42 fumbles.

Safety: Richie Petitbon, second round, 1959, Tulane. Petitbon is second on the Bears’ all-time interceptions list (38) trailing only Gary Fencik – the greatest Bears’ safety of all-time but not a former Chicago draft choice. Petitbon later coached the Washington Redskins.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: Kevin Butler, fourth round, 1985, Georgia. Butler held the Bears’ record most points scored until Robbie Gould (undrafted) broke the mark in 2015. Butler kicked for the Bears’ 1985 Super Bowl championship team, scoring a then-rookie high of 144 points.

Punter: Pat O’Donnell, sixth round, 2014, Miami. O’Donnell isn’t the best punter in team history, that distinction goes to Brad Maynard or Bobby Joe Green., but he has been the most productive draft pick to date. O’Donnell is averaging 44.0 yards per kick and is coming off an excellent 2016 for the Bears.