The Chicago Bears special teams have been one of the worst in the NFL the past four seasons. Since former coordinator Dave Toub's departure following the 2013 season, it's been a struggle of borderline comical proportions for nearly every unit of the team's third phase.
In 2016, the Bears finished 27th in field goal percentage, 18th in kick return average, 19th in punt return average, 17th in opponent kick return average and 32nd, dead last, in opponent punt return average.
On Friday, special teams players will take the field at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine, while return specialist will participate with their respective position groups.
Here are four return specialists, and one kicker, the Bears should pay close attention to this weekend.
Adoree Jackson (CB), USC
Jackson earned All-American honors as a track star in both 2015 and 2016, so he's expected to run a very fast 40 time, which could propel him well into the second round. His speed makes him a home run threat every time he touches the ball, which he showed the past three years for the Trojans. As a kick and punt returner at USC, Jackson scored eight touchdowns. He's a game-breaker on special teams but Jackson is also considered a top prospect at cornerback as well, another position of need for the Bears. Jackson also contributed as a wide receiver for the Trojans, so his versatility will be very attractive. Jackson will cost a second- or third-round pick but his ability to contribute immediately as a returner and slot corner might make him worth the investment.
Jabrill Peppers (S/LB), Michigan
Peppers is a hybrid safety and linebacker who earned snaps at 15 different positions on offense, defense and special teams during his collegiate career -- and he does everything at a very high level. He's a big hitter but can also line up in the slot and play man-to-man in coverage. On top of that, he's an electric return man who averaged 27.9 yards per kick return and 11.4 yards per punt return in 2015. He averaged 14.8 yards per punt return and scored four return TDs in 2016. Peppers is also a former track star who should test well in the 40. He's considered a first-round prospect but Peppers could be on the Bears' radar as a trade-back or trade-up candidate.
Desmond King (CB/S), Iowa
A four-year starter at cornerback for the Hawkeyes, King finished second in the FBS with 8 interceptions in 2015. He was named the 2015 Jim Thorpe Award winer and a consensus All-American, yet King returned to school for his senior season to get his degree. King lacks elite athleticism, so many believe he'll move to safety at the pro level, which happens to be another area of need for the Bears. King was also a very productive returner the past two seasons. He averaged 26.0 yards per kick return and 11.7 yards per punt return in 2015 and 2016 combined. King is considered a borderline first-round pick who could be available when the Bears select with the fourth pick in the second round.
T.J. Logan (RB), North Carolina
Logan is an experienced kick returner who started in that role the past four years at UNC. He averaged 27.2 yards per kick return during his collegiate career and returned 2 kicks for TDs last season. Logan is a straight line runner in the backfield but he brings a ton of speed. If Logan runs in the low 4.4s, he could be on Chicago's radar in the sixth round.
Zane Gonzalez (K), Arizona State
Gonzalez had one of the greatest collegiate careers by a kicker in NCAA history. He set numerous national and conference records, including: all-time FBS career record holder with 96 field goals made, most career points (494), first player to make 20 or more field goals in each of his four seasons, most games with four or more field goals (6), and most made field goals of 50 or more yards in a single game (3). The Bears desperately need consistency at kicker and Gonzalez is about as reliable as they come. He also has the big leg needed to kick in the high winds of Soldier Field. He'll cost a draft pick, likely a sixth rounder, but Gonzalez could pay large dividends for many years to come.