Yesterday, the Jacksonville Jaguars made possibly the most stunning, and confusing to some, move of the draft. With their third round selection, the Jaguars drafted Bryan Anger, a punter from California. I’ll say that again for dramatic effect. The Jaguars drafted a punter in the 3rd round of the draft.
Before we throw the Jaguars under the bus for making Anger the highest drafted punter since the Bears drafted Todd Sauerbrun with their 2nd round selection in 1995. Punters are a very important, especially for a team that doesn’t move the ball very well like the Jaguars.
Another aspect of the pick is that it’s as close to a “safe pick” as you’ll ever get in the NFL. Punters are very easy to evaluate. Kickers tend to get far more consistent in the early years of their NFL careers, but punters tend to come into the NFL more refined than their kicking counterparts.
So we revert to our original question. Is a punter worth a high draft pick? I would argue yes. A good punter can bury a team deep in their own territory. A good punter can also instantly swap field position. Essentially, a punter is a defensive player. A good punt allows the defense to come on the field and attack. No, it’s not a glamorous pick, but I like the idea of taking a great punter at the top of the draft.
In the Jaguars’ case, the pick combines a need with a great player. I’ve always been a firm believer that punters and kickers make a huge difference in the game. You can argue that they don’t matter as much because they only play a handful of plays per game they aren’t as important, but the plays they are in for, they’re the focal point, and those plays matter more than most other plays in the game.
If you don’t like picking a punter in the first few rounds of the draft, that’s a justifyable opinion, but just know that the NFL Network agrees with me on this one.