LAKE FOREST — One of the things that fans look at when a team either falls or trades into a spot in the NFL Draft is what they’ve done at that position before.
Bears’ fans did the same when general manager Ryan Poles traded the No. 1 overall pick for a host of selections including wide receiver D.J. Moore.
That gives the Bears the ninth overall pick in 2023 and it has a very interesting history when it comes to the franchise.
It’s a group that includes a Hall of Famer, a player who was yet wasn’t on the Bears’ only Super Bowl championship squad, along with three athletes who were part of the armed services during World War II.
Here’s a history of the Bears’ players that have been taken with the ninth overall pick in the NFL Draft.
Brian Urlacher – 2000
The standout of the group is Brian Urlacher as he joined the Bears from New Mexico in the 2000 NFL Draft.
Over the course of the next 13 seasons, he would establish himself as one of the greatest linebackers in the history of the franchise and the league. An eight-time Pro Bowl selection, four-time first team All-Pro, 2000 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, and 2005 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Urlacher’s unique athleticism made him one of the best defenders in the game.
He was a key part of a number of strong Lovie Smith defenses that helped the team to four division championships and the 2006 NFC title. Urlacher was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2018.
Leonard Floyd – 2016
The last time the Bears drafted a player with the ninth overall pick was when they traded up to get it in 2016.
That’s when Ryan Pace selected Georgia outside linebacker Leonard Floyd in hopes that he would bolster a defense that was building into a power under coordinator Vic Fangio.
As it turns out, Floyd had his most productive season in his rookie year of 2016 when he had seven sacks, six tackles for loss, and a fumble recovery touchdown against the Packers at Lambeau Field.
A knee injury limited Floyd to ten games in 2017, but he started every contest for the next two years. Over that time, the linebacker was never able to get more than four sacks in a season and wasn’t re-signed after the 2019 campaign.
In three years in Los Angeles with the Rams, Floyd has found his rhythm, netting 29 sacks in 50 games while helping his team to a Super Bowl title in the 2021 season.
Al Harris – 1979
Drafted ninth overall in 1979, defensive end Al Harris would be in Chicago for ten years as he collected 21.5 sacks and eight fumble recoveries in nine seasons.
A starter and a reserve on some great Bears’ defenses, Harris is known by a few for the one year he didn’t play for the team: 1985.
In a contract holdout along with teammate and defensive back Todd Bell, Harris missed the 1985 Super Bowl championship seasons, when the Bears had arguably the greatest defense in NFL history.
Harris would finish his NFL career with the Eagles, who were coached by his former defensive coordinator in Chicago Buddy Ryan.
Don Scott – 1941, Bob Steuber – 1943, Ray Evans – 1944
The previous three picks with the ninth overall selection came in the 1940s at the height of World War II.
Don Scott was a standout, versatile quarterback and halfback at Ohio State who was drafted by the Bears in 1941. Instead of joining the team, the two-time All-American would opt to join the US Army Air Forces where he was a pilot in Europe.
On October 1, 1943 Scott was killed in England during a training exercise when his B-26 bomber crashed.
Bob Steuber was selected ninth overall in the 1943 NFL Draft after a strong career as a halfback at Missouri. He would take the field for the Bears for one game on September 26, 1943 against the Packers in Green Bay.
Steuber would then enter the United States Navy, where he was stationed at DePauw University, Marquette University, and Iowa Pre-Flight school at the University of Iowa, where he competed in a few sports.
After his discharge from the Navy in 1946, he joined the Cleveland Browns, who were then in the All-American Football Conference. He would stay in that league with the Los Angeles Dons (1947) and Buffalo Bills (1948) before an injury ended his playing career.
Ray Evans was picked by the Bears in 1944 with the ninth overall pick in the midst of a legendary career at Kansas where he was a football and basketball All-American.
He would serve in the US Army Armed Forces for three years so he never played for the Bears, and actually returned to Kansas for the 1946 & 1947 seasons. Considered one of the greatest athletes in the history of the school, Evans has his number retired in football & basketball.