Bears fans hoping their kicker-starved team would choose Utah’s Matt Gay in the draft (or even sign him as an undrafted free agent) were thrown a curveball when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used a fifth-round selection on the 2017 Consensus All-American and Lou Groza Award winner.
The Bucs decision to pluck a kicker in the fifth round left the Bears with one fewer option to choose from in this draft. Sure, that’s a bit of a bummer because we really liked Gay and his powerful leg. But it’s not as if the Bears don’t have options.
In fact, there is one guy still on the board who has a history of success at Soldier Field.
Chase McLaughlin (Illinois) was the Big Ten’s Kicker of the Year in 2018 and earned All-Big Ten first-team honors from the conference’s coaches and second-team all-conference honors by the media. He was also a Lou Groza Award semi-finalist after a season in which he led the Big Ten in scoring with 96 points as he connected on 20 of 25 field goals during his senior season.
If you check out the highlight package below, you’ll see McLaughlin kicking in a familiar venue – and doing so successfully:
See! It *IS* possible to hit the upright and have it still go in!
McLaughlin showed plenty of leg kicking in the Big Ten, particularly in that game at Soldier Field. So while there are numerous things the Bears should be considering when picking their next kicker, I simply can’t overlook McLaughlin’s experience in a place that has proven to be notoriously difficult to kick.
These are the remaining picks owned by the Bears as we close down Day 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft:
- Round 6, Pick No. 205
- Round 7, Pick No. 222
- Round 7, Pick No. 238
I don’t think the Bears would (or even should) draft a kicker with one of their last three picks. But when the undrafted free agent period begins, they would be wise to add McLaughlin to the competition and see what he can bring to the table.