Grading the Bears Draft Picks: Tory Taylor
Trevor Ruszkowski - USA Today Sports

Grading the Bears Draft Picks: Tory Taylor

by - Senior Writer -

Coming into the 2024 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears may have had two first-round picks, but they only had four total picks. All of those picks came in the first four rounds, giving the Bears an opportunity to find several players who could contribute on day one.

Having all your picks in the first four rounds can be good, but you still need to hit on those picks to avoid a draft-day bust. From all accounts, both of the Bears first round picks appear to be game changes, but it could be their fourth-round pick that finds himself as the single biggest X-Factor on the team.

It is hard to believe that the Bears used their fourth-round pick on a punter, but it wasn't just any ordinary punter. It was the best punter in the nation, Tory Taylor. Any time you draft a punter, it doesn't get the fans excited, but when you take a punter this high, it starts to bring in a ton of question marks as to why. Taylor isn't an ordinary punter and could make a massive difference for this team.

The University of Iowa product was a unanimous All-American in 2023 and a two-time first-team All-Big Ten punter. No one has punted for more yards in a single season than Taylor’s 4,479 yards in 2023. No punter has put up a higher career average than his 46.3 yards per punt. He had one game last season against the Wisconsin Badgers, where he punted 10 times for 589 yards. Both offenses in that game combined for 497 yards of offense, which shows you Taylor has a leg.

Taylor has been a massive asset for the Hawkeyes for the past two seasons, and although the Bears are hoping they don't need to rely on him as much as Iowa did, he figures to be an excellent asset for the Bears this season and beyond. Punters are more valuable in today's game than most people think. Not only do they punt the ball, but they are also given the task of holding the ball for the placekickers, which will come in handy with Cairo Santos.

Believe it or not, Santos has been one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL for the past three seasons despite not having the biggest leg. There is a reason why the Bears settled for so many field goals as their offense stalled out, but Santos did his part to knock kicks through. Punting, on the other hand, was an issue as Trenton Gill didn't do a great job of flipping the field position.

That won't be an issue for Taylor, as his massive leg will make it easy for the Bears to flip the field. He could essentially pin teams deep in their own territory to help the offense get after their opponent. Often overlooked, Special Teams are equally as important as the offense and defense, as you need a good kicking game to make kicks and flip the field.

Santos hasn't had an issue making kicks, and now the Bears are adding a punter capable of pinning teams deep and flipping field position. Chicago already has one of the best defenses in the game, an ever-improving offense, and now a punter that could give the Bears one of the best, if not the best, special teams units in the NFL.

Things are really starting to trend upward for the Bears, to the point where a lot of people think they are not only a playoff team next year but also a team that could contend for the division with the likes of the Lions and Packers. With the offseason far from over, more moves could be coming for this team as fans are finally getting excited about Bears football again.

Draft Grade B+

Typically, grading a punter comes with a grain of salt, as many feel it isn't an important pick. However, taking one this high has more headlines, and the Bears hit a home run with Taylor. While drafting him in the fourth round may have been a stretch, he wouldn't have been around the next time the Bears picked, so they had to get something done to get him. All in all, this was a great move and one that will not be overlooked much longer.

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