Bears draft positional analysis: K/P
April, 27, 2011
By Michael C. Wright | ESPNChicago.com
Chris Morrison/US PresswireRyan Donahue played at St. Rita before going on to a four-year career at Iowa and is considered the best punter in the draft.Robbie Gould’s status the fifth-most accurate kicker in NFL history (159 of 186 on field goals) almost guarantees the Chicago Bears won’t look to add to his position this weekend during the NFL draft.
Having made nine game-winning field goals, in addition to 5-of-7 on attempts from distances of 50 yards or more, Gould has been one of the stars of the team’s vaunted special teams unit. But the punting situation doesn’t appear to be as promising, given Brad Maynard’s status as a free agent, not to mention the fact the Bears brought in unproven Richmond McGee as a potential replacement.
It’s safe to say the Bears won’t spend a draft pick on a kicker. But the team might bring in one of the punters listed below in free agency to compete with McGee and Maynard (if he’s brought back) for the starting job.
Here’s a look at the top 10 kickers and punters for the NFL draft, which starts on Thursday, and where they’re projected to be selected:
Position grade: C
Analysis: There are question as to whether Maynard’s advancing age (37) is taking distance off his punts. Maynard ranked 39th in net punting average (35.2), but opponents were able to return his punts just 39 times out of 83 kicks because the 14-year veteran landed 24 punts inside the 20.
Throughout his career, Maynard ranks second in the NFL since 1976 with 407 of his 1,258 punts falling inside the 20, which also ranks as best in the league since 1997.
Still, the Bears have played coy regarding whether they would like to re-sign Maynard. Further clouding the situation was the club’s decision to sign McGee on Feb. 22 to a two-year contract.
McGee spent training camp with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008, but was cut after the exhibition season. Dating back to 2009, the Bears have signed and released McGee -- who spent some of last season on the team’s practice squad -- three times.
McGee still hasn’t participated in a regular-season game in the NFL.