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On the final day of the 2024 NFL Draft, one of the most surprising picks came from the Chicago Bears, who decided to select a punter in the fourth round

With the 122nd overall pick, the Bears decided to take Iowa's Tory Taylor, who became just the second punter over the past 10 years to be taken in the top 125. Although the Bears took him early, it's a good thing they did, because he might not have been on the board much longer.  

According to Bears special teams coordinator Richard Hightower, there were several other teams eyeing Taylor and they were actually angry at the Bears for stealing the punter away from them. 

"We got angry coaches on other teams saying 'I can't believe you guys took him. We didn't think you were going to do that,'" Hightower said this week during an interview CHGO Sports

Hightower said the opposing coaches were shocked "in a good way" and that they were essentially jealous of Chicago's pick. 

"'We got it wrong and you guys got it right,'" Hightower said of the reaction he got from opposing coaches. "So that's cool when you hear your peers say stuff like that."

Although some teams might not have been willing to take a punter so early, the Bears had to do it because they were afraid that another team might jump in and take Taylor. Hightower credited general manager Ryan Poles for being bold enough to make the pick. 

"Kudos to Ryan and his staff, because [Taylor] wouldn't have lasted to the backend of the fourth and definitely would've been gone in the fifth," Hightower said. "I've got that confirmation from three teams already."

During an interview with Pat McAfee last week, Poles confirmed that the team decided to draft Taylor early because they were afraid another team was going to steal him. 

"I didn't expect him to get much further. Definitely didn't think I'd be able to pick him up when we got into the fifth round," Poles said, via

So why were the Bears willing to take a punter so high in the draft when most other teams have historically shied away from a move like that? 

"The thought process there is to make anyone we're playing really uncomfortable," Poles said. "I didn't play much in the NFL, but I know running onto the field and having the ball spotted inside the 10-yard line is a very uncomfortable feeling. It's disheartening at times. And I love taking advantage of field position. And, really, that should help us with points, as well."

Taylor was a hot prospect because he finished his career as one of the best punters in FBS history. 

During the 2023 season, Taylor totaled 4,479 yards punting, which broke an NCAA single-season record that had stood for 85 years. He also averaged 48.2 yards per punt last season, which also broke a single-season record. Over the course of his four-year career, he averaged 46.3 yards per punt, which was another NCAA record. 

The Bears ranked dead last in the NFL last season in net yards per punt and Taylor should help fix that issue for 2024.