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.
It isn’t often that a third round pick will make nearly 200 starts with a team, but that’s exactly what center Olin Kreutz did in his Bears career, and that status earns him the number three slot on our countdown.
Kreutz was a third round pick of the Bears in the 1998 NFL Draft, and he came into the league with some serious hype. He was a consensus All-American during his junior year at the University of Washington, and scouts had him pegged as the top center available in the draft. The Bears still managed to land him with the 64th overall pick, and needless to say, he ended up having an excellent career.
He ended up playing 182 games with the Bears from 1998 through 2010, finishing only behind Walter Payton in terms of number of games played in a Bears uniform. He was selected to play in the Pro Bowl six-times. He was also named an All-Pro player four times, including one season where he was a first-team All-Pro.
The 2006 season was kind to Kreutz and the Bears, and the offensive line was a big part of the reason why the team reached the Super Bowl. With an excellent running back in Thomas Jones and great chemistry with guys like John Tait, Kreutz had arguably his best season with the Bears, and was named a first-team All-Pro player as a result.
Kreutz may have been looked at as a leader by most of the Bears’ players, but he did have his fair share of run-ins with his teammates. In the 2005 season, Kreutz was fined $50,000 after breaking Fred Miller’s jaw during a confrontation, and in the 2011 season, he ended up leaving the New Orleans Saints after just four games because he lost his passion for the game.
Putting Kreutz over Payton is something we are going to take a lot of heat for, but when you compare the career of a guy who was a high first round pick and a guy who was taken in the third round of the draft, you can see where our minds were at. Kreutz was an elite player in college, but center is a tough position to adjust to in the NFL, and he was one of the best at what he did. That’s why we put him at number three, and it took a couple of really great players to keep him off of the top of the heap.