INDIANAPOLIS -- Ryan Donahue keeps close tabs on the Bears.
Although he won’t admit to knowing much, it’s safe to say that Donahue -- a former St. Rita high standout punter and four-year star at Iowa -- could break down the situation at his position for the Chicago Bears with the depth of a seasoned NFL analyst.
“They have their own situation, and I’m not gonna pretend like I know anything that’s going on,” Donahue said as he walked down a hallway Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium on Day 1 of the NFL Scouting Combine.
Less than a second later, Donahue, who is widely considered the best among this year’s draft class of punters, showed just how much he knew.
“I heard they signed [Richmond] McGee [to a two-year contract], and he’s been around for a while. He’s ingrained in that program,” Donahue said. “I imagine he’d do a great job if that’s who they decide to go with.”
So clearly, Donahue understands the brewing battle for a roster spot between current Bear Brad Maynard -- who will soon become an unrestricted free agent -- and McGee, who signed a deal on Feb. 18 with the team, but has been unable to catch on despite several opportunities.
A 14-year veteran, Maynard ranked No. 29 in the NFL last season in net punting average (35.2 yards) and No. 32 in punting average (40.1 yards). McGee, meanwhile, has been trying unsuccessfully since 2006 to land a spot on an NFL roster.
So Donahue wouldn’t mind seeing his name tossed about at some point in the Chicago Bears punting derby.
“That would obviously be a dream come true,” Donahue said. “It would be something special. I’m not really hoping for anything specifically, but in the back of my mind that’s always there. That’s the hometown team. So you would love for that to happen.”
Partially because of Donahue’s experience punting in the harsh conditions of the Midwest, some draft pundits think Donahue could compete almost immediately for a starting job in the NFL. Of Donahue’s 251 career punts at Iowa, 92 landed inside the 20.
Donahue averaged 41.9 yards per punt -- including a 44.6-yard average as a senior -- over his college career, and is currently working out at Iowa to refine his technique, in addition to learning to adjust to punting an NFL ball.
With the Bears’ situation at punter as a minor thought in the back of his mind, Donahue soaked up that chaotic scene at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“It’s been great,” Donahue said. “This has been an eye-opening experience. It’s very cool. As a kid you grow up and dream of coming to these places. Now you’re here, and it’s like ‘Oh, wow.’ I’m just really enjoying this process.”