Just three specialists — one punter and two placekickers — were selected in the 2014 NFL Draft.
The Bears struck first, taking Miami (Fla.) punter Pat O’Donnell in Round Six (No. 191 overall). Given his status as a draft pick, O’Donnell figures to have every chance to win the job as a rookie. The Bears released Adam Podlesh, their punter from a season ago, in March.
The right-footed O’Donnell punted 53 times in 2013, averaging 47.1 yards. He bench-pressed 225 pounds 23 times at the NFL Scouting Combine. Ex-Steelers punter Drew Butler could be his top competition in Chicago.
In Round Seven, kickers were taken in back-to-back picks, with the Redskins selecting Zach Hocker of Arkansas 228th and the Lions drafting Nate Freese of Boston College 229th.
Hocker, who is right-footed, connected on 13-of-15 field goals in 2013 for the Razorbacks. Head coach Jay Gruden indicated Saturday that Hocker will have a chance to compete with Kai Forbath for a role on kickoffs and on placements. While Forbath hit 18-of-22 field goals in 2013, he forced just 14 touchbacks in 57 kickoffs.
The right-footed Freese didn’t miss a single field goal in 2013, hitting all 20 attempts with a long of 52 yards. In addition to Freese, the Lions have veteran kickers John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio on the roster. David Akers, who handled the kicking last season, was not re-signed.