The NFL draft is quickly approaching, but we're still about a month out from Phil Emery's third draft as general manager of the Chicago Bears.
As we get closer to May, we'll start getting into Chicago's potential plans. But for right now, let's take a look at the club's past five drafts, starting with 2009 under former general manager Jerry Angelo. The Bears selected five players that started games, but interestingly not one of those players remain on the team.
Remember, this 2009 draft came after the Bears traded for quarterback Jay Cutler, a transaction that required the team giving up three picks (two first-round selections and a third-round choice).
First-round pick: None
Number of picks: 9
How they did: Fairly well, given the limitations imposed by the Cutler trade. Of the nine picks the club made, starting with the third-round selection of defensive tackle Jarron Gilbert, five actually started games for the Bears and one -- receiver Johnny Knox -- made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. In fact, the club drafted two eventual Pro Bowlers in Knox and defensive tackle Henry Melton. Too bad, however, that Gilbert didn't play football as well as he could jump out of a swimming pool. The team's first pick of the 2009 draft, Gilbert played in just four games for the Bears and by 2010 he had been waived. Gilbert joined the Jets in 2010 and has also spent time with the Buffalo Bills. But he's been out of the league since 2012.
Pivotal pick: Gilbert certainly fits the description here because he was the team's first pick, meaning the Bears needed to acquire an impact prospect after trading away a first and a third in the Cutler deal, in addition to the second-round pick to Seattle. Gilbert gained some fame going into the draft for a YouTube video in which he was seen jumping out of a pool, but on the field with the Bears he never accomplished anything quite as impressive. Angelo definitely whiffed on this pick, as well as the next one: receiver Juaquin Iglesias.
Best pick: Knox could have easily earned this designation, but his career was cut short prematurely by a horrific back injury. So Melton gets the call here. Melton was taken in the fourth round as a defensive end and ended up sitting out his entire rookie season because of a hamstring injury. Melton contributed at defensive end and defensive tackle in 2010 in a reserve role. When Melton switched over to defensive tackle full time in 2011, he started in all 15 games he played, led all NFC players at his position sacks (7) and tied for third in sacks among all defensive tackles in the NFL. Then in 2012, Melton made the Pro Bowl after generating six sacks and 33 tackles, which landed him an $8.45 million contract as the team's franchise player. Melton then missed the majority of the 2013 season due to a torn ACL, and signed with the Dallas Cowboys in free agency.
Worst pick: Gilbert is in the running, but Iglesias (No. 99 overall) was perhaps the worst of the class. As a rookie, Iglesias was active for only one game, and in 2010 the Minnesota Vikings signed him off the Bears' practice squad. Iglesias was one of three receivers drafted by the Bears in 2009, and served as a reminder for the club's struggles at that time at that position. Chicago traded for one of the league's top quarterbacks that offseason, but never gave him any real weapons in the draft until Emery selected Alshon Jeffery in 2012. Iglesias, meanwhile, spent 2013 in the Canadian Football League and signed to play with the Helsinki Wolverines of the American Football Association of Finland.