2024 NFL Draft

Grading Bears fourth-round pick: Tory Taylor, punter

Ryan Poles added the best punter in the draft with his fourth round selection. Here's our grade for the pick

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LAKE FOREST, Ill. – With the No. 122 pick of the 2024 NFL draft, the Bears selected Iowa punter Tory Taylor. It was potentially Ryan Poles’ last pick of the year, and he used it to presumably upgrade a big weakness from the 2023 team.

Taylor is known for having a monster leg and left Iowa with several NCAA records. His 46.3 yard avg. over his career and his 4,479 total punt yards in 2023 are both the best marks of all-time. Taylor is also adept at pinning down opponents. He had 32 punts inside the 20-yard line last season and his punts led to 29 fair catches in 2023.

For his efforts, Taylor was named a unanimous All-American last year, and won the Ray Guy award which recognizes the top punter in the nation.

By adding Taylor, the Bears are almost assuredly going to move on from Trenton Gill. The team drafted Gill in the seventh round of the 2022 draft, and enjoyed a solid rookie season. But he took a step back last year. Gill’s 38.0 net yards/punt last season ranked dead last in the league. His 11.9% touchback rate was tied for third-worst. Gill’s 26.9% rate of punts inside the 20-yard line was fourth-worst.

Grading a player before he’s taken a snap in the NFL is an inherently unfair thing to do, but we’re going to do it anyways. A few factors play a role in the grade here. The Bears upgraded an important position with the best player in the class. But with impact pass rushers still on the board– which many view as a bigger need– it felt like an opportunity to trade back and add both. That’s nitpicking, though.

Grade: B+

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