They have been called "big uglies," "hogs" and even "big hog mollies."
But never before have they been called the most coveted players in the draft.
The Bears' selection of Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long was part of a trend — a big trend.
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- Photos: The 2013 NFL first round draft picks
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Six offensive linemen were taken with the first 11 picks, and nine were taken in the round. That's 28 percent of the first round.
The three sure-thing left tackles — Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel and Lane Johnson — were taken with the first, second and fourth picks.
The Giants chose Syracuse's Justin Pugh right before the Bears. Neither Pugh nor Long had been projected to be chosen so high.
The selection of Long was not typical. The Bears had not taken a guard in the first round in the last 52 years. The last was Roger Davis in 1960.
General manager Phil Emery said in the last 25 years, there had not been a draft in which more than six offensive linemen were taken by the 20th pick. Long was the eighth offensive lineman taken.
"The trend for the last five years is going toward offensive linemen and defensive lineman," Emery said.
Reinforcing the importance of pass protection in the NFC North was the Lions' drafting of defensive end Ziggy Ansah with the fifth pick, the Vikings' selection of defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd with the 23rd pick and the Packers' selection of defensive end Datone Jones with the 26th pick.
Ansah should combine with Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and company to invigorate the Lions' pass rush. The Lions now have three defensive linemen who were chosen in the top 13 picks.
Floyd, projected to be a top-10 pick, could be a force in Minnesota on a line with defensive end Jared Allen. He was one of the best value picks of the first round.
Jones gives the Packers six first-round picks and two second-rounders in their front seven.
So the selection of Long partly was about the value of the offensive line. But part of it was about the rare ability Emery saw in Long.
For the last 12 years, the Bears have been rating players with an athletic index score. Emery said Long had the highest rating of any guard over that time frame, and he also was "fifth or sixth" among offensive tackles.
Long certainly has the genes. His father, Howie Long, is a Pro Football Hall of Famer. His brother Chris Long was the second pick of the 2008 draft.
"His dad and brother think he's the best athlete in the family," Emery said.
Most teams projected Long to play guard, and Emery said Long will start out there. But one AFC front office man said he thought Long had left tackle feet.
"His arms are a little short, but he could be a left tackle," he said. "He is very quick-footed. He is still learning the position, but he has upside."
Long might play more than one position for the Bears.
"Part of the reason we're extremely excited about having him here is his versatility," Emery said. "We feel he can be a starting right tackle. We feel he can be a good left tackle in this league."
Long played both left tackle and guard at Oregon. But he has played offensive line for only two years, one of which was at Saddleback Community College.
He was a baseball pitcher and defensive end previously, and he had only four career starts as an offensive lineman at Oregon. His limited body of work was a concern for some, but not for Emery.
"I'd be concerned if he wasn't the person he was and he wasn't the dynamic athlete he is," Emery said.
In fact, Emery said he believes Long can play right away.
"My inexperience can be looked at in two ways," Long said. "I feel I can get a lot better with good coaching."
The Bears might have been able to acquire Long if they moved down in the first round. Before the draft, three front office men said they thought Long would be a second-round pick.
But it was not a gamble the Bears were interested in taking. Emery said so long as Long was on the board, they would not have been interested in a move down.
Besides, their best chance of moving down disappeared when the 49ers moved up two spots ahead of them in a deal with the Cowboys to choose LSU safety Eric Reid.
That was fine with the Bears. They had their sights set on something bigger.