Finally, after weeks and weeks of reviewing the top ten prospects at each position in the 2014 NFL Draft, I reach the moment everyone’s been anticipating with baited breath.
That’s right: Kickers and punters.
Washington really isn’t in the market for a kicker, as Kai Forbath has been very good during his time with the Redskins. He was 18-for-22 on field goals last season. He’s also only 26, so there’s no reason to think Washington would be looking to replace him, or even to give him competition.
Punter is a different story. Sav Rocca was awful last year, not helped by the Redskins’ terrible punt coverage. Washington currently has two punters on its roster, Robert Malone and the recently-added Blake Clingan. Their presence doesn’t necessarily mean the Redskins will stand pat if they can get a top punting prospect without burning a draft pick, however.
Here are the top ten kickers and punters in the 2014 NFL Draft:
1. Kirby Van Der Kamp (Iowa State), P:
Van Der Kamp was a second-team All-Big-12 pick as well as a co-captain for the Cyclones. He finished his college career with a 42.4 yards per punt average, and is the top punting prospect in the draft. That still projects him to be no better than a fifth-round pick.
2. Chris Boswell (Rice), K:
With perhaps the most powerful leg in the country, Boswell has attracted the attention of NFL scouts. He repeatedly showed his ability to make field goals of over 50 yards while playing for the Owls. He could be a fifth- or sixth-round selection.
3. Anthony Fera (Texas), K:
Fera earned consensus All-America honors last season and finished his final season for the Longhorns going 20-for-22 on field goal attempts. He was also an excellent punter in college, but he’s entering the draft as a kicker. He’s also a probable fifth- or sixth-round pick.
4. Tom Hornsey (Memphis), P:
The 2013 Ray Guy Award-winner, Hornsey isn’t as polished as Van Der Kamp, but may have higher upside: He’s an Australian who didn’t even play his first American football game until 2010. He’s only projected as a sixth-round pick, but keep an eye on this one.
5. Pat O’Donnell (Miami), P:
An All-ACC and second-team All-American selection, O’Donnell set the Miami single-season record with an impressive 47.1 yards per punt average. He’ll possibly get drafted in the seventh round, or, if not, he’ll definitely get signed as a free agent.
6. Cairo Santos (Tulane), K:
The Brazilian-born Santos was a perfect 21-for-21 on field goal attempts this past season, with a long of 57. He’s another one who will either be drafted very late or catch on with a team as a free agent following the draft.
7. Steven Clark (Auburn), P:
Clark has the distinction of being a Ray Guy Award semifinalist three years in a row. He was an honorable mention All-SEC performer, posting a 42.6 yards per punt average. Like the two names above him and the three below, he’ll either be taken late or be in camp after being signed post-draft.
8. Richie Leone (Houston), P:
Leone picked up second-team All-American honors this past year, and, like Clark, was a Ray Guy semi-finalist three
seasons in a row. He compiled a 43.2 yards per punt average and is another late pick / free agent.
9. Cody Mandell (Alabama), P:
You didn’t think I’d make it through one of these lists without an Alabama player showing up, did you? Mandell had a 43.8 average this year, but one of the problems with being the Crimson Tide’s punter is that you don’t punt often enough to qualify for any statistical leaderboards or to get much recognition. Again, Mandell is a late pick or free agent.
10. Jeff Budzien (Northwestern), K:
A first-team All-Big-Ten, first-team All-American, and a two-time winner of the Big Ten Kicker of the Year Award, Budzien is as well-credentialed as anyone on this list. He’ll be signed by someone if he isn’t taken in the seventh round.
The chance of the Redskins drafting any of these players is low. The chance that they’ll draft one of the kickers is even lower. However, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the punters on this list find his way into Redskins’ camp as a free agent if they happen to go undrafted. Washington’s punting situation was horrible last year, and that’s something that can be upgraded quickly and relatively cheaply.