Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bears' Punter O'Donnell Follows a Long Line of Bears

Patrick O'Donnell
When the traditional rock solid defensive minded Bears picked up punters, they were looking for someone who would give them many years of service.  Often the punters got plenty of exercise--punting often.  That's not so much the case any longer, particularly with today's Bears' team that brandishes one of the best offenses in the NFL. Never-the-less, an excellent punter is a big time advantage for a team.

The Bears drafted Miami punter Patrick Michael O'Donnell in the sixth round.  O'Donnell was born on February 22, 1991. His athletic skills have been called freakish--he is a muscular guy at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds who made news with his speed and strength in the NFL Combine.  He ran the 40-yard dash at 4.62 and he bench pressed 225 pounds for 23 reps.  Even better than that however is the fact that he had a 47.1 yard punting average and he has knocked out a few plus 70 yard punts in his college career, which spans three years in Cincinnati and one in Miami as a graduate student.  And at the college level, he was known to make some tackles as well. He is a very steady team player with a long hang time on his punts--perfect for the NFL. 

In addition to punting, O'Donnell kicked some field goals and kickoffs in college so he is ready to fill in as kicker if needed.  He had a 64.2 yard per kickoff average.  At Palm Beach Central High School, he was a three-year letterman in both football and track and field.

Right now it looks like O'Donnell is the odds on favorite to replace Adam Podlesh.  Podlesh played 3 seasons for the Bears and had a 42.3 average with some rough spots last year. Podlesh was a track star in high school and like O'Donnell is an excellent athlete. Often after a punter has a tough season  a change in venue is beneficial and performance improves.  Podlesh is now on the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Look for a good year from Podlesh.


Teams would love to  have a steady punter who plays for a long time to give the coaches more time to focus on the constant turnover in several other positions.  Some notable Bears' punters had long careers.

Bears Punters with Long Bears Careers

Bobby Joe Green:  A 5-foot-11 and 175 pound punter who played for 12 seasons for the Bears from 1962-1973.  His Bears' career average on punts was 42.1.  He played 14 seasons in the NFL--his first two years with Pittsburgh.  

Bob Parsons: Played tight end and punter at 6-foot-4 and 234 pounds for 12 seasons for the Bears from 1972-1983.  Parsons played sparingly at tight end except for 1975 when he had 13 receptions for 184 yards. His career average on punts was 38.7 yards. He played his entire career for the Bears.

Brad Maynard: A 6-foot-1 and 186 pound punter who played for 10 seasons from 2001-2010 and had a 41.9 yard average for the Bears. Maynard played a total of 15 seasons in the NFL. 

Other Notables

Maury Buford A 6-foot-1 and 192 pound punter who played 4 seasons for the Bears during the Ditka era from 1985-1986 and 1989-1991.  Buford had a Bears' career average on punts of 40.8.

Chris Gardocki: A 6-foot-1 and 192 pound punter who played for 4 seasons for the Bears from 1991-1994.  His Bears' career average on punts was 39.8.  Gardocki had a very long career and played or a total of 16 seasons on four different teams. 

Todd Sauerbrun: A stocky 5-foot-10 and 211 pound punter who played for 5 seasons for the Bears from 1995-1999.  He played eight more seasons in the NFL.  His Bears' career average on punts was 42.2.

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Sporting Chance Press is the publisher of Pillars of the NFL: Coaches Who Have Won Three or More Championships and other fine books including Maddie Takes the Ice;  The 10 Commandments of Baseball: An Affectionate Look at Joe McCarthy's Principles for Success in Baseball (and Life);  Public Bonehead, Private Hero: The Real Legacy of Baseball's Fred Merkle; and Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout.  Seen here.



But Pat O’Donnell is a punter, and the first one off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Chicago Bears selected O’Donnell, a Lake Worth native who played at Palm Beach Central High, on Saturday with the 191st pick of the sixth round.
O’Donnell, who watched the draft with his family at home, laughed over the phone when asked about his reaction.
“I was excited,” he said. “I was really excited. It’s a great organization. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
O’Donnell will reunite with former Palm Beach Central teammate Jon Bostic, a Bears linebacker. He also should get a chance to start as a rookie. In March the Bears released veteran Adam Podlesh, who struggled through 2013. Chicago ranked last in the NFL in gross punting average.
“They said they were very excited to get me in the draft,” he said. “They were excited for me to come out there and compete for the spot.”
An average of two punters per year are selected, but several highly ranked players remained on the board when O’Donnell heard his name called.
“I think there so much talent across the country,” he said. “To be drafted in the NFL Draft is a huge honor. It’s definitely a big honor. I was actually surprised. I had a lot of confidence in myself. A lot of people were telling me it’s possible.”
The selection of a punter was somewhat of a laughing matter to the NFL Network crew, who admitted they couldn’t break down what made O’Donnell a good or bad choice.
“All I know is if you’re drafted as a kicker, you’re pretty darn special,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, a guest analyst for the network, saw O’Donnell during his team’s Nov. 2 meeting with the Canes in Tallahassee. “This guy’s good, man,” Fisher said. “He affected the field position big time. He’s consistent. Big long guy, big leg.
“Would you consider him a weapon?” host Rich Eisen asked.
“Without a doubt,” Fisher said.
O’Donnell’s former teammates had plenty of praise, as expected.
“Bears got a great one!!” Hurricanes kicker Matt Goudis tweeted. ”Not only the best punter in the nation but a great holder and a kickoff specialist.”
O’Donnell did all that at UM, where he was named an All-American by USA Today, Athlon and SI.com in 2013. He was best in the ACC and second nationally with a 47.1-yard punting average (including a long punt of 71 yards). His career best, set during his three years at Cincinnati, was 76 yards.
He was selected one spot ahead of the other Hurricanes punter to be drafted: Jupiter’s Matt Bosher (sixth round, 192nd overall, 2011 by the Atlanta Falcons). Two other UM punters, Rick Tuten and Jeff Feagles, each went undrafted, but became Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl champions.
Tuten, who punted for the 1983 national champions, made the 1994 Pro Bowl and was a Super Bowl champ with the 1999 Rams.  Feagles, punter for the 1987 title team, played 22 years in the league, made two Pro Bowls, an All-Pro squad and won a Super Bowl with the 2007 Giants.
None entered the NFL with the athleticism of O’Donnell, who grabbed headlines for running a 4.62-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That tied the fastest by a kicker or punter since 2006, according to NFL.com. He also put up 23 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press — better than No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.
At a chiseled 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he looks more like a tight end than a punter. It’s a frame that inspired UM coach Al Golden to give him that “Drago” nickname after he arrived on campus last August.
O’Donnell, who punted for three years at Cincinnati, knows a bit about punting in chilly weather. But when he leaves Thursday for team workouts, it will be his first trip to the Windy City.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “The weather’s not going to be sunny and 70 degrees the whole time, so it’s going to be a challenge – like facing any team, like [in] any stadium.”
 6 263 3 479
- See more at: http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/caneswatch/2014/05/10/chicago-bears-draft-hurricanes-p-pat-odonnell-in-sixth-round-191st-overall/#sthash.CWt3kzki.dpuf
The h on par with receivers and tight ends. He put up bench-press reps like an offensive lineman. He “looks like Drago,” his coach once said, referring to the Rocky IV villain.
But Pat O’Donnell is a punter, and the first one off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Chicago Bears selected O’Donnell, a Lake Worth native who played at Palm Beach Central High, on Saturday with the 191st pick of the sixth round.
O’Donnell, who watched the draft with his family at home, laughed over the phone when asked about his reaction.
“I was excited,” he said. “I was really excited. It’s a great organization. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
O’Donnell will reunite with former Palm Beach Central teammate Jon Bostic, a Bears linebacker. He also should get a chance to start as a rookie. In March the Bears released veteran Adam Podlesh, who struggled through 2013. Chicago ranked last in the NFL in gross punting average.
“They said they were very excited to get me in the draft,” he said. “They were excited for me to come out there and compete for the spot.”
An average of two punters per year are selected, but several highly ranked players remained on the board when O’Donnell heard his name called.
“I think there so much talent across the country,” he said. “To be drafted in the NFL Draft is a huge honor. It’s definitely a big honor. I was actually surprised. I had a lot of confidence in myself. A lot of people were telling me it’s possible.”
The selection of a punter was somewhat of a laughing matter to the NFL Network crew, who admitted they couldn’t break down what made O’Donnell a good or bad choice.
“All I know is if you’re drafted as a kicker, you’re pretty darn special,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, a guest analyst for the network, saw O’Donnell during his team’s Nov. 2 meeting with the Canes in Tallahassee. “This guy’s good, man,” Fisher said. “He affected the field position big time. He’s consistent. Big long guy, big leg.
“Would you consider him a weapon?” host Rich Eisen asked.
“Without a doubt,” Fisher said.
O’Donnell’s former teammates had plenty of praise, as expected.
“Bears got a great one!!” Hurricanes kicker Matt Goudis tweeted. ”Not only the best punter in the nation but a great holder and a kickoff specialist.”
O’Donnell did all that at UM, where he was named an All-American by USA Today, Athlon and SI.com in 2013. He was best in the ACC and second nationally with a 47.1-yard punting average (including a long punt of 71 yards). His career best, set during his three years at Cincinnati, was 76 yards.
He was selected one spot ahead of the other Hurricanes punter to be drafted: Jupiter’s Matt Bosher (sixth round, 192nd overall, 2011 by the Atlanta Falcons). Two other UM punters, Rick Tuten and Jeff Feagles, each went undrafted, but became Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl champions.
Tuten, who punted for the 1983 national champions, made the 1994 Pro Bowl and was a Super Bowl champ with the 1999 Rams.  Feagles, punter for the 1987 title team, played 22 years in the league, made two Pro Bowls, an All-Pro squad and won a Super Bowl with the 2007 Giants.
None entered the NFL with the athleticism of O’Donnell, who grabbed headlines for running a 4.62-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That tied the fastest by a kicker or punter since 2006, according to NFL.com. He also put up 23 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press — better than No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.
At a chiseled 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he looks more like a tight end than a punter. It’s a frame that inspired UM coach Al Golden to give him that “Drago” nickname after he arrived on campus last August.
O’Donnell, who punted for three years at Cincinnati, knows a bit about punting in chilly weather. But when he leaves Thursday for team workouts, it will be his first trip to the Windy City.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “The weather’s not going to be sunny and 70 degrees the whole time, so it’s going to be a challenge – like facing any team, like [in] any stadium.”
 6 263 3 479
- See more at: http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/caneswatch/2014/05/10/chicago-bears-draft-hurricanes-p-pat-odonnell-in-sixth-round-191st-overall/#sthash.CWt3kzki.dpuf
He ran a 40-yard dash on par with receivers and tight ends. He put up bench-press reps like an offensive lineman. He “looks like Drago,” his coach once said, referring to the Rocky IV villain.
But Pat O’Donnell is a punter, and the first one off the board in the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Chicago Bears selected O’Donnell, a Lake Worth native who played at Palm Beach Central High, on Saturday with the 191st pick of the sixth round.
O’Donnell, who watched the draft with his family at home, laughed over the phone when asked about his reaction.
“I was excited,” he said. “I was really excited. It’s a great organization. I’m really excited to be a part of it.”
O’Donnell will reunite with former Palm Beach Central teammate Jon Bostic, a Bears linebacker. He also should get a chance to start as a rookie. In March the Bears released veteran Adam Podlesh, who struggled through 2013. Chicago ranked last in the NFL in gross punting average.
“They said they were very excited to get me in the draft,” he said. “They were excited for me to come out there and compete for the spot.”
An average of two punters per year are selected, but several highly ranked players remained on the board when O’Donnell heard his name called.
“I think there so much talent across the country,” he said. “To be drafted in the NFL Draft is a huge honor. It’s definitely a big honor. I was actually surprised. I had a lot of confidence in myself. A lot of people were telling me it’s possible.”
The selection of a punter was somewhat of a laughing matter to the NFL Network crew, who admitted they couldn’t break down what made O’Donnell a good or bad choice.
“All I know is if you’re drafted as a kicker, you’re pretty darn special,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said.
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, a guest analyst for the network, saw O’Donnell during his team’s Nov. 2 meeting with the Canes in Tallahassee. “This guy’s good, man,” Fisher said. “He affected the field position big time. He’s consistent. Big long guy, big leg.
“Would you consider him a weapon?” host Rich Eisen asked.
“Without a doubt,” Fisher said.
O’Donnell’s former teammates had plenty of praise, as expected.
“Bears got a great one!!” Hurricanes kicker Matt Goudis tweeted. ”Not only the best punter in the nation but a great holder and a kickoff specialist.”
O’Donnell did all that at UM, where he was named an All-American by USA Today, Athlon and SI.com in 2013. He was best in the ACC and second nationally with a 47.1-yard punting average (including a long punt of 71 yards). His career best, set during his three years at Cincinnati, was 76 yards.
He was selected one spot ahead of the other Hurricanes punter to be drafted: Jupiter’s Matt Bosher (sixth round, 192nd overall, 2011 by the Atlanta Falcons). Two other UM punters, Rick Tuten and Jeff Feagles, each went undrafted, but became Pro Bowlers and Super Bowl champions.
Tuten, who punted for the 1983 national champions, made the 1994 Pro Bowl and was a Super Bowl champ with the 1999 Rams.  Feagles, punter for the 1987 title team, played 22 years in the league, made two Pro Bowls, an All-Pro squad and won a Super Bowl with the 2007 Giants.
None entered the NFL with the athleticism of O’Donnell, who grabbed headlines for running a 4.62-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. That tied the fastest by a kicker or punter since 2006, according to NFL.com. He also put up 23 reps at 225 pounds on the bench press — better than No. 1 overall pick Jadeveon Clowney.
At a chiseled 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he looks more like a tight end than a punter. It’s a frame that inspired UM coach Al Golden to give him that “Drago” nickname after he arrived on campus last August.
O’Donnell, who punted for three years at Cincinnati, knows a bit about punting in chilly weather. But when he leaves Thursday for team workouts, it will be his first trip to the Windy City.
“It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “The weather’s not going to be sunny and 70 degrees the whole time, so it’s going to be a challenge – like facing any team, like [in] any stadium.”
 6 263 3 479
- See more at: http://blogs.palmbeachpost.com/caneswatch/2014/05/10/chicago-bears-draft-hurricanes-p-pat-odonnell-in-sixth-round-191st-overall/#sthash.CWt3kzki.dpuf