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Who are best kick returners in draft?

Posted Mar 21, 2017

Senior writer Larry Mayer discusses the top return specialists in the NFL Draft, who the Bears drafted after they went 1-13 in 1969 and the likelihood of the Bears continuing to address their secondary in free agency and the draft.



Wondering about a player, a past game or another issue involving the Bears? Senior writer Larry Mayer answers a variety of email questions from fans on ChicagoBears.com.

It seems like the Bears haven’t had a good kick returner since Devin Hester left. Who are some of the top return prospects in the draft?

Phil K.
Hampshire, Illinois

There are several excellent return specialists in this year’s draft. Ourlad’s scouting services ranks the top four like this: 1) USC cornerback Adoree Jackson; 2) Michigan safety Jabrill Peppers; 3) Iowa safety Desmond King; and 4) North Carolina running back T.J. Logan. Jackson is small, but explosive. He returned four kickoffs and four punts for touchdowns in three seasons at USC and had five interceptions last year as a junior.  Peppers averaged 13.1 yards on 39 punt returns with one touchdown and 26.8 yards on 18 kickoff returns at Michigan. King averaged 11.2 yards on 45 punt returns and 26.0 yards on 56 kickoff returns the past two seasons at Iowa. Logan averaged 27.2 yards on 77 kickoff returns with five touchdowns in four years at North Carolina.

Who did the Bears draft after they went 1-13 in 1969? I’m assuming they had the No. 1 pick.

Danny L.
Homer Glen, Illinois

You know what they say about assuming, right, Danny? The Bears actually had the No. 2 overall selection after losing a coin flip to the Steelers, who also went 1-13. Pittsburgh selected some guy named Terry Bradshaw, while the Bears traded the No. 2 pick to the rival Packers in exchange for linebacker Lee Roy Caffey, center Bob Hyland and running back Elijah Pitts. Green Bay spent the No. 2 pick on Notre Dame defensive tackle Mike McCoy. Another interesting tidbit is that the Bears’ only win in 1969 came against—you guessed it—the Steelers.

The Bears really have improved their secondary in free agency. Do you think they’ll continue to pursue defensive backs in free agency and the draft or are they satisfied with what they have?

Eric

Bears general manager Ryan Pace is always looking to improve every position group. So if there’s a defensive back in free agency or the draft he thinks will upgrade the roster, I’m sure the Bears would try to acquire that player. Pace looks at free agency as an avenue to fill holes so that he can pick the best available player in the draft. He’s done that in the secondary by signing safety Quintin Demps and cornerbacks Prince Amukamara and Marcus Cooper. But given that NFL analysts are saying that the defensive back position is deep in this year's draft, I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if the Bears spend a pick or two on a cornerback or a safety. With the continued proliferation of the passing game in the NFL, you can never have too many good defensive backs.

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