The Green Bay Packers still need to address their years of special teams issues. That unit has been their Achilles’ heel for several seasons. With 10 picks in the draft less than a month away, is it crazy to think about taking a punter?
The Packers’ last pick is No. 256 in the seventh round. The team has multiple needs, but if those needs are basically met with their first nine, it’s not out of the question.
Yes, they do have a punter who is pretty good, but he’s still too inconsistent. This would be the perfect time to bring someone in to compete for the job. If your new draft pick is amazing, he improves your special teams immediately. If he loses to J.K. Scott, all you lost was a seventh-round pick.
It will be a contract year for Scott, which means he has a lot to prove. He has a new special-teams coordinator, albeit one hired from within the organization. Could another punter and a new coordinator help improve the Packers?
J.K. Scott So Far
Scott will be entering his fourth year with the team. He was drafted in the fifth round in 2018 with the 172nd-overall pick. The Alabama alumnus had a tremendous college career under Nick Saban. He was chosen as an All-American and named to multiple first-team All-SEC squads.
During the Denver native’s rookie year, he had 71 punts for 3,176 yards. His longest was 67 yards. He had a 44.7-yard average and 19 punts inside the 20-yard line. In 2019, he had 77 punts for 3,386 yards, with a long of 66, an average of 44, and 29 inside the 20. Statistically, it was his best season. He was also named to the PFF NFL All-Pro Second Team that year. Last year the explosive offensive season showed in his stats. Scott had just 46 punts for 2,092 yards. His longest was 62, he had a 45.5 average, and only 15 inside the 20.
In early March, Green Bay’s new special-teams coordinator, Maurice Drayton, said that the team’s punting and long snapping needs to improve. Drayton said that it needs to be “more consistent,” and most fans would agree. Scott’s numbers rank him around 20th among punters. He had 14 punts that went farther than 50 yards, which is impressive. Unfortunately, he also had 15 punts that were under 40. Consistency can definitely improve. Hopefully, Drayton can change that.
There are really only three to five punters who could be drafted this year. Teams can always sign punters after the draft or bring them in if injuries occur. But if a team is looking for an impact player, punters are sometimes good gambles.
Let’s quickly break down three of the punters available and run through their 2020 stats.
James Smith out of Cincinnati averaged 43.9 yards per punt. He had one touchback, 18 punts inside the 20, and forced a fair catch 52.5% of the time. Georgia Tech senior Pressley Harvin III only had 46.7% for fair catches but averaged 48 yards a punt, three touchbacks, and also 18 punts inside the 20. Max Duffy from Kentucky averaged 45.1 yards, had 16 inside the 20, one touchback, and a 42.9% fair-catch rate. The other two punters on most lists are Zach Von Rosenberg from LSU and Drue Chrisman out of Ohio State.
If you go by draft projections at CBS Sports, the first punter is expected to go around pick 227. The next is ranked 265. With only 259 picks in the draft, the chances of three punters going seems pretty slim.
Will It Happen?
So should the Green Bay Packers draft a punter? Probably not. They have plenty of other needs, and there is a good chance they will use some of their 10 picks to trade up for players they really want. However, if for some reason they don’t trade any and can draft all their positions of need, sure, why not grab a punter at the end?
But if you draft a punter instead of that third offensive lineman and you end up needing next year, the decision would seem pretty silly in retrospect. The Packers can definitely still bring in a punter for competition, but it’s not an absolute need right now.
When it comes to special teams, there are a lot of areas for improvement beyond punting. Crazier things have happened in the draft, though, so you never know. But it does make more sense to give Scott one more year.
Also, why would you want to get rid of someone who can do this?