Q&A on Pat O'Donnell with Windy City Gridiron

David Banks

I got together with the fine folks over at SB Nation's Chicago Bears site, Windy City Nation, to discuss Bears 6th round draft pick, former Miami Punter Pat O'Donnell.

It's not often a punter gets drafted,  but then again Pat O'Donnell isn't your ordinary punter.

Blessed with a huge leg, linebacker size, and WR athleticism, O'Donnell brings rare attributes to an underrated position.

The Bears obviously felt the need to upgrade, and snagged the All-American punter in the third round.

We caught up with Lester Wiltfong of Windy City Gridiron and asked him the following.

SOTU: How has the drafting of Punter Pat O'Donnell been received by Bears' fans?

WCG: Initially fans weren't enthused by a punter being drafted, but we're talking about the 6th round here. If the Bears can grab a guy that can be their punter for the next 8-10 years, then that's a good pick. There'll always those fans that discredit anything kicker/punter related on a football field, but bottom line is these guys can help a team to win games.

SOTU: Was Chicago's punting situation subpar last season?  Was this more a pick of necessity or luxury?

WCG: Adam Podlesh was cut after his poor 2013 season. His punting wasn't the best, and he was making far too much money. I think Bears GM Phil emery saw a chance to grab the top guy at his position, he had an extra 6th rounder in his pocket, so he pulled the trigger.

SOTU: O'Donnell handled kickoffs for UM last season with a pretty high rate of touchbacks.  Can you see him filling the same role for the Bears?

WCG: It's very possible. Current kicker Robbie Gould has improved his touchback percentage every year, but if O'Donnell is better, he should be given those duties.

SOTU: Do you think the Bears will make use of his incredible athleticism and use more fakes?

WCG: When the Bears have an athletic punter/holder, they've always used him in the past. Last year under special teams coach Joe DeCamillis they didn't run any fakes, but with an athlete like O'Donnell, they'd be silly not to have a few tricks up their sleeves.

SOTU:   Last question, (Non O'Donnell related) Will any team ever hit the lottery with a special teams pick quite like the Bears did with the 2005 selection of the University of Miami's Devin Hester?

WCG: I think that was a perfect storm of a team that really emphasized special teams, defense and field position, and a general manager that identified a unique athlete that could help his team. Hester was drafted to return kicks and punts, but the plan was also for him to be a reserve cornerback. The defense thing never had a chance to materialize, because in year two they tried to make a receiver out of him. Hester could have been a great #3 guy, or a change of pace player, but the Bears didn't have much talent at the position. He was forced into becoming the #1 wide out and that hurt his overall play.



Thanks again to Lester for working with us.  Be sure to drop by Windy City Gridiron to check the progress of O'Donnell as the season progresses.
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