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2022 NFL Draft Surprise: ‘Punt God’ Matt Araiza Not Picked During Surprising 4th Round Gambling Streak

The NFL Draft doesn’t usually give us many surprises when it comes to punts, but it did come with two big upsets during Saturday’s fourth round.

The first big upset came when both the Ravens (Jordan Stout) and Buccaneers (Jake Camarda) selected a punt. The reason it was surprising is because you rarely see two punters this early in the draft. With Stout ranked 130th overall and Camarda three picks later, this marks only the third time since 1993 that two punters have been selected before the end of the fourth round.

The only other times it’s happened were in 1993 and 2007. There were more punters selected in the fourth round this year than in the entire 2021 draft combined (the Steelers’ pick of Pressley Harvin was the only punting pick last year). .

The other big punt surprise is the fact that San Diego State’s Matt Araiza was not one of the top two punters off the board. I mean, the man’s nickname is “Punt God,” but apparently that wasn’t enough to impress NFL teams.

Araiza was widely viewed as the top punting prospect after a 2021 season that ended with him winning the Ray Guy Award. If you look at his numbers, it’s pretty clear that Araiza has one of the strongest legs of any punting prospect in NFL history. Not only did he lead the nation in punt rate with an FBS-record 51.4 yards per punt, but he also had six punts of at least 70 yards in 2021, which was the most in the country (No other college punt had more than two ). To put that into perspective, there were only six punts of 70 or more yards per combined NFL punt last season.

One theory as to why Araiza is going down is because teams fear he could overwhelm his coverage in the NFL. Former Saints kicker Thomas Morstead recently explained to the Athletic why that’s a concern.

“The coach I had for my first eight years in New Orleans, if I had a 55+ yard punt, he would get mad,” Morstead said. “He told me: ‘You’re outgrowing your coverage. We’re not controlling field position.’ What I was asked to do was different from a skill set (perspective) that maybe other players have, but I know there are other players in the league who are told to just hit the ball as far down the field as they can. , and the team will cover. They’ll give up some big returns, but they’ll also have some giant field position changes as well.”

Although there is some concern that Araiza’s booming punts could lead him to overshoot his coverage, San Diego State seemed to do well covering his punts. One of the most important clearance statistics is average net clearance and Araiza finished the year with 44.3, which ranked him sixth in the country. Stout was slightly ahead of him at 44.5, while Camarda was well below both boys at 41.6.

Stout was one of the best bettors in this year’s class and it wasn’t a total surprise to see him taken first.

John Harbaugh is a former special teams coach and has a better eye for punters and kickers than any head coach in the NFL, so if he loved Stout, you can bet he liked his punting style better than Araiza’s booming style. .

Harbaugh seems to prefer fine clearance, which is what he’s had with Sam Koch. Stout will likely end up replacing the Ravens’ longtime punter, who turns 40 in August.

The biggest surprise of the fourth round is that the Buccaneers took Camarda over Araiza. The San Diego State punter was better in almost every metric.

There is also another theory as to why Araiza might be going down and that is because he has never held up as a kicker. Araiza served as a kicker for SDSU while in college, so he never had to put up with it. If a team isn’t comfortable with your holding skills, that could lead to you going down.

Araiza is likely to be drafted at some point, but while he was arguably the best punting prospect this year, he wasn’t the first kicker off the board.