As the NFL Draft approaches, Grizzly Detail is counting down the Top 30 draft picks in Chicago Bears history. In order to qualify for this list, a player must have worn a Bears uniform for at least five seasons (sorry Rosevelt Colvin and Wilber Marshall), and players who were selected in lower rounds of the draft will have an advantage in this countdown.
We continue the countdown with two very talented offensive linemen, as Stan Jones and Mark Bortz take down the #25 and #24 spots on our countdown.
Jones is the first of our players that joined the Bears before the NFL-AFL merger. An All-American at the University of Maryland, Jones was taken in the fifth round of the 1953 NFL Draft by the Bears. He ended up playing for 11 seasons before wrapping up his career with the Washington Redskins. He was primarily a guard in his NFL career before shifting over to defensive tackle in the later stages, and he was an All-NFL selection four different times. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1991.
As for Bortz, he was picked even later in the draft, going in the eighth round of the 1983 NFL Draft. He was picked as #42 on ESPN Chicago’s list of the Top 50 Bears of all time in a recent poll, and his longevity with the team was a big part of the reason why. He ended up starting 155 games for the Beas in his 12-year career, and was selected to the Pro Bowl on two different occasions.
Jones was a long-tenured lineman in an era when protecting the quarterback was just as crucial as it is today, and it wasn’t just his on-field prowess that earned him acclaim in NFL circles. Jones was also the first player to really embrace the notion that weight lifting could help linemen to increase their leverage at the line of scrimmage, and he was one of the strongest players in the league when he was active. The Football Hall of Fame’s website praises him as “big, quick, disciplined, intelligent, and durable,” and all of those qualities are treasured commodities among linemen.
Bortz had a great run of his own with the Bears, teaming up with guys like Keith Van Horne (#30 on our list), Jimbo Covert, and Tom Thayer to help the Bears to win the 1986 Super Bowl championship. Blocking for guys like Walter Payton and Jim McMahon may seem like a dream job to some, but Bortz did it to perfection, and the fact that he was an eighth round draft pick just emphasizes just how good of a job the team did in scouting him out.
While it’s really difficult to squeeze out statistics and anecdotes about linemen, these two both have a large number of fans and admirers. Both men were picked in the later stages of the draft, thus elevating their status on this, and they could likely go even higher if not for the fact that there are so many players worthy of Top-20 consideration.