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Walter Payton is best draft pick in Bears' history

Former Bears running back Walter Payton was All-Pro seven times and joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. Manny Rubio/US Presswire

The first-round picks of Hall of Famers Dick Butkus (No. 3 overall) and Gayle Sayers (No. 4 overall) in 1965, though fabulous choices, did not produce any postseason appearances. But the selection of running back Walter Payton, a fourth overall pick in 1975, laid the foundation for the Chicago Bears' storied Super Bowl XX championship in the 1985 season.

Why Payton is the best draft pick in Bears history: Because he’s the greatest running back of all-time. Payton played 13 seasons in Chicago, retiring with 16,726 rushing yards, 125 total touchdowns and 77 100-yard rushing games. All-Pro seven times, Payton was not only a gifted and physical running back, but he made an enormous impact inside the locker room and in the community. The NFL’s Man of the Year Award is named after Payton, who joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1993. There simply isn’t enough time or space to list all of Payton’s incredible accomplishments. He is remembered -- Payton passed away in 1999, at the age of 45 -- as one of the best players to ever step onto a football field.

Honorable Mention:

Butkus, LB: The most feared middle linebacker who ever lived. Butkus left the game with 22 career interceptions, 25 fumble recoveries and a countless number of vicious hits. A six-time member of the All-NFL team, Butkus entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979. He remains the gold standard at the linebacker position, even to this day.

Sayers, HB: Nicknamed the "Kansas Comet" for his breathtaking speed and elusiveness in the open field, Sayers compiled 9,435 net yards in parts of only seven NFL seasons. Sayers scored a rookie record 22 touchdowns in 1965. Sayers is the youngest player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of fame.

Mike Singletary, LB: Selected to 10 straight Pro Bowls, most ever by a Bear. Singletary served as the club’s defensive captain from 1983-1992. He was named the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 1985 and '88. Singletary missed just two games in 12 seasons, and retired with 1,488 tackles, 19 sacks and seven interceptions. He entered the Hall of Fame in 1998.

Mike Ditka, TE: The Bears' first-round pick in 1961, Ditka transformed tight end into a dual-threat position. He won NFL Rookie of the Year with 56 receptions. A Hall of Famer, Ditka played in Chicago until 1966. His 427 catches were the most in NFL history by a tight end until Kellen Winslow broke the record in 1980. Ditka returned to coach the Bears from 1982-1992, guiding the team to 112 wins, six division titles, three NFC title games and the Bears' only Super Bowl victory.

Richard Dent, DE: Selected in the eighth round in 1983, Dent was a dominant pass-rusher. At the time of his retirement, Dent ranked third in career sacks with 137.5. He led the NFC with a team-record 17.5 sacks in 1984. Dent won Super Bowl XX MVP honors for recording three tackles, 1.5 sacks, one pass defensed and two forced fumbles in Chicago’s blowout win against New England. Dent entered the Hall of Fame in 2011.

Dan Hampton, DL: The fourth overall choice in 1979, Hampton played 12 seasons for the Bears, finishing his career with 82 sacks. He played in 157 regular season games with 152 starts. Hampton was named to the NFL Team of the '80s by the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was inducted into Canton in 2002.