The Chicago Bears are coming off a disappointing 2021 season that ushered in the start of a new era with general manager Ryan Poles and head coach Matt Eberflus. The hope is this Ryan-Matt duo will be able to guide the Bears back to relevance.
With the NFL draft fast approaching, Poles still has plenty of work to do with the current roster, which features some glaring holes at positions of need. Positions like wide receiver, offensive line and defensive back remain huge concerns.
Here at Bears Wire, we’re going position by position to break down where Chicago stands entering the 2022 NFL draft. We’re wrapping things up with special teams, which is going to look a little different in 2022.
- Cairo Santos
- Patrick Scales
- Ryan Winslow
Cairo Santos returns for his third season with the Bears, where he’s brought some dependability to the kicker position. Santos connected on 86.7% of his field goals in 2021, with two of his four misses coming from 50-plus yards. Chicago re-signed long snapper Patrick Scales this offseason, which brings some stability to a special teams unit that lost punter Pat O’Donnell to free agency. Where things currently stand, Ryan Winslow, who was signed earlier this offseason, is the Bears’ punter.
- Pat O’Donnell
The Bears drafted Pat O’Donnell back in 2014, and he’s spent the last eight years in Chicago. But with a new regime, O’Donnell was allowed to explore options elsewhere. Unfortunately, that resulted in him signing a two-year deal with the enemy Green Bay Packers. While it wasn’t a huge surprise to see O’Donnell walk, the question becomes what do the Bears do at punter now? Do they roll with Winslow or look elsewhere?
For the first time in awhile, Chicago’s special teams are going to look a little different. With O’Donnell in Green Bay, Santos and Scales are the only returning specialists in 2022. There’s no doubt their starting jobs are locked down, although it’s certainly fair to wonder if the Bears could look elsewhere for punter. Right now, Winslow is the guy. But with some intriguing options in the NFL draft — and what will become undrafted free agency — perhaps we could see a little punter competition during training camp.0
- Cade York, K, LSU
- Nick Sciba, K, Wake Forest
- Gabe Brkic, K, Oklahoma
- Matt Araiza, P, San Diego State
- Jake Camarda, P, Georgia
- Jordan Stout, Penn State
The Bears aren’t in the market for a kicker, but punter is a different story. Chicago has a slew of positional needs to address and just six draft picks to work with, but someone like Matt Araiza is certainly an intriguing name to keep an eye on.