The Chicago Bears gave up too soon on Willie Gault
This brings us to the final player on this list. I'm sure that even if you didn't watch Willie Gault play football, you are familiar with his name. Gault was a first-round draft pick of the Bears in 1983 -- the year I was born. He played five years in Chicago and is still ninth all-time in receiving yards.
Gault broke out in his rookie season when he turned 40 catches into 836 yards and eight touchdowns. Gault was a deep-ball threat who averaged just shy of 20 yards per reception. Like Wilber, he was part of the Chicago Bears Super Bowl team. That season he caught 33 balls for 704 yards and a touchdown.
While with Chicago, Gault averaged 730 yards and five touchdowns per season. Gault wasn't retained and finished out his career with the Raiders. He played six seasons playing in silver and black. He averaged just shy of 500 yards and three touchdowns per year. If we remove his final season stats when he didn't start a game, that average jumps to nearly 600 yards. Willie Gault's best season for the Raiders came in 1990 when he caught 50 balls for 985 yards and three touchdowns.
The Chicago Bears, like every team in the NFL, missed out on a few players due to giving up on them too soon. This list has 18 players going back to the early 1980s, but I'm sure there are more earlier in franchise history. Were there any that I missed? Let us know on our Facebook page.