The 2019 NFL Scouting Combine wrapped up on Monday as the new league year will begin in just eight days. Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace was open to the possibility of drafting a kicker in this year’s draft when he met with the media late last week. It would be unwise for the Bears to go that route given Pace’s failure to resolve the position and his success in the draft.
The Bears will release kicker Cody Parkey at the start of the new league year following his costly missed field goal in the NFC Wild Card round.
Although he was a Pro-Bowler in 2014 and highly accurate before signing with the team, Parkey missed seven field goal attempts and three extra point attempts. The team signed free agent kicker Redford Jones in late January to provide depth at the position.
Pace has rebuilt the Bears roster via the draft as there have been valuable starters gained from each of his drafts. The Bears brass and scouting department have been especially impressive finding talent in the mid to late rounds of the draft. Players like Tarik Cohen, Eddie Jackson, Adrian Amos, Jordan Howard, and Bilal Nichols all were selected in the fourth round or later of the draft.
It is this reason why it would be foolish for the organization to risk a possible draft pick on a potential kicker. The team’s success rate at finding starters and quality players is too high to be used on a position that Pace and his scouts have struggled on for the last three seasons. Since releasing kicker Robbie Gould before the start of the 2016 season, the Bears have signed five kickers and have had four play in games since the 2017 season.
The last time the team used a draft pick on a kicker was when they drafted kicker Paul Edinger in the 2000 draft. A majority of NFL teams will not use their draft pick on kickers as they will usually sign them as undrafted free agents following the draft. There are instances where teams have used draft picks including high round picks on kickers. The most recent and costly pick used on a kicker was in 2016 when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers used their second-round pick on kicker Roberto Aguayo.
Drafting Aguayo would backfire on the Buccaneers as he would play one season with the team costing them not only the draft pick but a lot of money due to an expensive contract. He missed a total of ten kicks in his rookie season. The Bears even chose to give Aguayo a chance as they signed him during the 2017 pre-season giving him an audition in a few pre-season games.
Pace and the front office can ill-afford to spend a draft pick on a kicker only for the pick to fail. It would be compounded by the risk of a team finding a quality player following the Bears pick right after. A failed draft pick would make Pace’s inability to find a kicker a historic low at finding talent at the position.
The Bears front office would be better suited looking to resolve their kicking woes by either signing a veteran free agent kicker or holding a large tryout for undrafted free agent kicker following the draft. As much as the team has struggled to resolve the position, there is no full-proof way to make sure the next choice for a kicker will be a successful one.
Fixing the kicking position will be one of the more watched subjects for Bears media and fans this off-season. Whether it is signing a veteran or bringing in a college free-agent, there is no way to know how good the kicker will be until he begins kicking in the pre-season.
Pace needs to finally end his struggle of not being able to solidify the position now, but he should not do it at the expensive of a draft pick.