The Chicago Bears began developing a championship roster in the 1980 draft. The team took LB Otis Wilson and FB Matt Suhey with its first two picks that year.
In 1981, the club grabbed T Keith Van Horne and LB Mike Singletary with its top two selections. And in 1982, the Bears’ first pick was used on BYU quarterback Jim McMahon.
The foundation was in place, yet it was the 1983 draft that truly sent the organization over the top. If the Bears can repeat this year the success the club had in 1983, another Super Bowl appearance would be all but guaranteed.
Let’s take a look at the memorable picks that made up the greatest draft class in Chicago history.
T Jim Covert
Covert anchored the Bears line throughout the 1990s. He was an outstanding left tackle that provided consistent, quality blindside protection. He was named an All Pro four times and went to two Pro Bowls. In 1986 he was named Miller Lite Offensive Lineman of the Year and was selected to the NFL 1980s All-Decade Team.
WR Willie Gault
Gault was a dangerous deep threat throughout his five years in Chicago. His speed never allowed opposing defenses to stack the box to stop Walter Payton. In Super Bowl XX, he caught four passes for 129 yards.
CB Mike Richardson
Richardson was a starter for the Bears and vital member of the secondary during Chicago’s championship season. He was named an All Pro in 1986.
DE Richard Dent
S Dave Duerson
Duerson was a hard-hitting safety that was the vocal leader for the Bears. He was named to the Pro Bowl four times, was a two-time All pro selection and was awarded the 1987 NFL Man of the Year Award.
G Tom Thayer
Thayer was a starter at guard for the Bears for eight seasons. He is currently a member of the Chicago Bears game-day radio broadcast.
DE Richard Dent
In a round that doesn’t even exist in today’s NFL, the Bears found one of the all-time greatest pass rushers in NFL history. Dent was a four-time Pro Bowler, five-time All Pro, Super Bowl MVP and 2011 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee. Not bad for the 203rd overall selection.
G Mark Bortz
Bortz was drafted as a defensive linemen yet converted to guard once joining the Bears, a position he held for the next 11 seasons. He was a two-time Pro Bowler and holds the record for most playoff appearances in Bears history (13).
Chicago’s 1983 draft class produced seven starters, most of which were Pro Bowlers, All Pros or both. If the 2012 draft class is anywhere near as successful as the 1983 class, the Bears will be able to compete at a high level for many years to come.
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Jeremy Stoltz is Publisher of Bear Report magazine and BearReport.com and a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. To read him every day, visit BearReport.com and become a Chicago Bears insider.