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Could Bears solve kicking woes in draft? ‘I’ve seen it crash and burn’

Don’t count on the draft alone to solve the Bears’ kicking woes.

NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said Monday that he doesn’t think teams should use picks on kickers — at least until at least the last day of the three-day draft.

“To me, I’ve seen it crash and burn,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to use a high resource on a placekicker. I’d rather draft one in the sixth or seventh round and bring in a free agent. I’ve seen it more times than not; the odds are no different on that late-round pick vs. that free agent, of who’s going to end up winning that competition.”

One cautionary tale: Roberto Aguayo, whom the Buccaneers drafted with the 59th pick in 2016 and waived in August 2017. The Bears were the claiming team but quickly cut him, too.

LSU's Cole Tracy is considered the top kicking prospect. | Associated Press

“I think what happened in Tampa probably spooked a lot of people around the league,” he said.

The Bears, who will cut Cody Parkey at the start of the league year, will enter this week’s NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis searching for competition for rookie Redford Jones. They’ll eye college kickers — LSU’s Cole Tracy is considered the top prospect — and gauge the market for veterans.

With no selections in the draft’s first two rounds, the Bears have limited resources to pursue upgrades to their 2019 roster. They could eye a pass-catching running back in Rounds 3-7, but, Jeremiah said, that might be difficult.

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“As you can imagine, there’s not a lot there,” he said. “These guys don’t catch a lot of balls.”

Jeremiah said Penn State’s Miles Sanders, who carried 220 times for 1,274 yards and caught 24 passes for 139 yards last season, is “somebody that I could see in that third-round range.” James Williams, who caught a whopping 83 balls for 613 yards in Washington State’s pass-happy attack, is “a little bit later on down the list for me,” Jeremiah said.

Stanford’s Bryce Love is another possibility. He ran 166 times for 739 yards last season, one year after gaining 2,118 yards on 263 carries. He caught 20 passes for 99 yards in 2018.

A factor that could make Love available when the Bears pick: He had surgery after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament in the Cardinal’s last regular-season game in December.

“I think there’s going to be a little bit of a discount on him because of the injury,” Jeremiah said. “I think he does have some of the traits you look for that could develop into that type of a role.”