Chicago Bears select Australian punter Tory Taylor from Iowa with 4th-round draft pick

Australia native set NCAA record for punting yardage in 2023

Iowa punter Tory Taylor (9) punts during the first half of a 2021 NCAA college football game against Purdue in Iowa City, Iowa.

LAKE FOREST – On Friday, the Bears looked no farther than Hinsdale for offensive lineman Kiran Amegadjie. On Saturday, they set their sights a little farther. The Bears selected Australian punter Tory Taylor out of Iowa with a fourth-round draft pick.

The Melbourne, Australia, native became the 122nd overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft. He was the first kicking specialist selected by any team in this year’s draft.

Taylor set all kinds of records at Iowa. Last season, he bested an 85-year-old NCAA record for single-season punting yardage. His 4,479 punting yards on 93 punts beat out a record set by Michigan State’s Johnny Pingel in 1938. It helped that Iowa’s offense struggled mightily throughout the season.

Taylor was a consensus All-American selection last season. It has been a remarkable journey for the 26-year-old, who grew up playing Australian football but didn’t start kicking an American football until 2019.

“When I first came over here I was like, ‘Oh, I’m just going to have fun and see what happens,’” Taylor said. “After a year or so, my coach said you can really be something pretty special. It wasn’t really anything that I thought about too much. I’d always known that I had a big leg.”

Taylor’s girlfriend is from Winnetka, so he’s pretty pumped to be joining the Bears. He said “so many people” reached out saying they hoped the Bears might take him – and that’s exactly what happened.

Taylor said he clicked with Bears special teams coordinator Richard Hightower at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

“He’s totally locked in,” Bears scout Drew Raucina said Saturday. “This guy loves football. He’s going to do anything you ask him to do. We want that leadership aspect. He has that. So, for us, he is a total culture fit.”

Entering the day Saturday, the Bears had two punters on the roster. Trenton Gill, a 2022 seventh-round draft pick, has been the punter each of the past two seasons. The Bears also have left-footed punter Corliss Waitman on the roster for training camp.

Gill ranked 25th among NFL punters in yards per punt last season (at 46.1 yards per punt). He also ranked 28th with only 18 punts downed inside the 20-yard line and 30th at percentage of punts downed inside the 20 (26.9%).

After using one of his top four draft picks on a punter, it’s pretty clear that upgrading the punter spot was a priority for Bears general manager Ryan Poles.

Taylor joins USC quarterback Caleb Williams, Washington receiver Rome Odunze and Yale’s Amegadjie as Bears draft picks this weekend. The Bears began the third and final day of the NFL draft holding only one selection, but they later traded back into the fifth round to take Kansas edge rusher Austin Booker.

All of their other picks were traded away prior to the draft. The team traded away a fourth-round pick for receiver Keenan Allen, a fifth-round pick for offensive lineman Ryan Bates, a sixth-round pick for offensive lineman Dan Feeney last year, and a seventh-round pick for receiver N’Keal Harry in 2022.

Sean Hammond

Sean Hammond

Sean is the Chicago Bears beat reporter for the Shaw Local News Network. He has covered the Bears since 2020. Prior to writing about the Bears, he covered high school sports for the Northwest Herald and contributed to Friday Night Drive. Sean joined Shaw Media in 2016.