NFL Draft Preview: Notable Third Overall Draft Picks

The Chicago Bears own the number three overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, marking the highest draft position they've held in nearly 50 years. How have they done when picking third, and which NFL standouts have been selected with the pick over the years?

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The NFL Draft is just under a month away, and with the Chicago Bears picking third overall, fans are beginning to dive into the process to see just how good a player the team can select in that spot. After all, the Bears haven’t picked this high in nearly 50 years. The last time the Bears held the third pick or higher in the draft was all the way back in 1972, when the team took offensive tackle Lionel Antoine out of Southern Illinois. With that in mind, we decided to dig a little deeper into the history of the third overall pick, and see not only what the Bears have done with it on the five occasions that they’ve had it, but also to see what kinds of notable players in NFL history have been selected with the pick.
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The Bears have held the number three overall pick on five occasions, and they’ve gotten some remarkable players. One of those is quarterback Bobby Layne, whom they drafted in 1948 and ultimately made the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the most famous is certainly linebacker Dick Butkus, who is considered to be one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history.
nThe other three men who were taken with the third pick by the Bears are fullback Norm Standlee (1941), halfback Chuck Hunsinger (1950), and offensive tackle Lionel Antoine (1972).
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Munoz spent all 13 of his NFL seasons with the Bengals, making 11 Pro Bowl appearances and getting named to nine All-Pro First Teams. He did a little bit of everything for Cincinnati, serving as one of the best blockers in the league and even hauling in seven receptions for 18 yards and four touchdowns during his career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998.
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Although Everett is best known for his physical confrontation with sportscaster Jim Rome, he had a solid NFL career as he threw 203 career touchdowns in 12 NFL seasons. He had his most success as a member of the Rams, leading the league in touchdown passes in the 1988 and 1989 seasons.
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Sanders, arguably one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game, only played 10 seasons for the Lions, but he certainly made the most of htem. He made the Pro Bowl in all 10 seasons and was a First-Team All-Pro in six of those campaigns. He eclipsed 1500 rushing yards on five occasions, and he scored 99 rushing touchdowns in a career that culminated in his Hall of Fame induction in 2004.
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Kennedy played all 11 seasons of his career with the Seahawks, making eight Pro Bowls over that period. In 167 career games he racked up 58 sacks, 568 tackles, and forced 11 fumbles, and as a result of his exploits he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012.
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Hearst bounced around the NFL in his career, but his best seasons came as a member of the San Francisco 49’ers, as he rushed for over a thousand yards in three seasons with the team. In his career he scored 30 touchdowns and rushed for nearly 8000 yards.
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Nicknamed “Air” McNair, the quarterback had a strong NFL career, throwing for over 31,000 yards and 174 touchdowns in a career that spanned 13 seasons. He appeared in the 2000 Super Bowl as a member of the Titans, facing off with Kurt Warner in one of the most legendary championship games in NFL history.
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One of the best players to come out of the University of Illinois, Rice appeared in 174 games during his NFL career, racking up 470 combined tackles and 122 sacks. He started with the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers for most of his career, and he made three Pro Bowls and was named the 1996 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
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Johnson partnered up with Matt Schaub in Houston and immediately energized the Texans’ offense, making the Pro Bowl on seven occasions and leading the NFL in receiving in back to back seasons in 2008 and 2009. Johnson has 1062 career receptions for 14,185 yards and 70 touchdowns.
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One of the greatest wide receivers of his generation, Fitzgerald has been one of the most popular athletes in the league since he emerged in 2004. In 202 career games, Fitzgerald has 1125 receptions for 14,389 yards and 104 touchdowns, and he’s racked up 100 or more catches in four of his NFL seasons. He’s made 10 Pro Bowls, and was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2016.
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Widely considered one of the best offensive tackles in the NFL, Thomas has spent his entire career with the Browns, making 10 Pro Bowls and being named a First-Team All-Pro on seven different occasions. He is one of five players in NFL history to make the Pro Bowl in each of his first 10 seasons in the league.
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Nicknamed “Matty Ice,” Ryan has been one of the most accurate passers in the NFL, and he hit his career peak in 2016 as he captured NFL MVP honors for the Falcons. He has made the Pro Bowl on four different occasions, won the NFL Rookie of the Year award in 2008, and set the NFL record for most consecutive games with at least 200 passing yards.
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McCoy has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last five seasons, and it’s easy to see why. He’s racked up 35.5 sacks and 188 combined tackles in his NFL career, and he is widely regarded as one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL.
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In three NFL seasons, Bortles has gotten off to a solid start, throwing 69 touchdowns and completing just over 1000 passes in his first 45 games in an NFL uniform. He can be interception-prone, as he has 51 interceptions in that time, but with his raw skills, the Jaguars are hoping to build a team around him for the future.
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