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.
In this edition, we take a look at the final current Bear on the countdown, as cornerback Charles Tillman checks into the number six slot.
Tillman, who was a second round pick of the Bears in the 2003 NFL Draft out of Louisiana-Lafayette, is arguably the greatest cornerback in Bears history. His patented move, the “Peanut Punch,” has proven to be ridiculously effective over the years, as he has racked up 40 forced fumbles in his career. He also has 36 interceptions, 737 tackles, and has started 150 games since he made his rookie debut with the team in 2003. He has also been named to the Pro Bowl twice, scored eight career touchdowns, and defended 133 passes in his career.
As you can see from the extensive list of details from Tillman’s career, he has had quite the run with the team. He is one of Jerry Angelo’s best picks from his tenure with the team, and under Lovie Smith’s Cover-2 defense, Tillman really blossomed into a superstar. During the 2005 season, Tillman started 15 games for the Bears, intercepting five passes and forcing four fumbles while recording 85 tackles.
Those early years with the team could have easily been the most productive of his career, but Tillman raised his game to another level in the 2013 season. That year, he started all 16 games, picked off three passes (returning them all for touchdowns), and he also forced 10 fumbles, a career high. He was selected to his only First-Team All-Pro squad that season, and he was also chosen for the Pro Bowl for the second consecutive year.
Off the field, Tillman has been just as successful as he has been on it. His work with the Cornerstone Foundation has helped countless chronically ill children in the Chicago area, and he was awarded the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award earlier this year. Tillman also helps to pay for tickets for soldiers to attend games at Soldier Field, and he has worked with countless other charities and causes during his career in the Windy City.
Perhaps more so than any current Bear, Tillman represents what hard work, a good disposition, and an exceptional amount of talent can do for a player’s career. He had the gifts to become an excellent cornerback, but he has stayed at the top of his game through injury and aging better than he would have had he not been a tireless worker, and his schedule of off-the-field activities ensures that his impact isn’t only felt on the gridiron. He is truly one of the all-time greats to ever suit up for the team, and he is well deserving of his spot on the countdown.