The Third Phase: Punters advancing on to the NFL

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Did you miss me? I missed all of you. I thought it would be appropriate to bring this column back from vacation. Why do you ask? Well, the NFL Draft came and went.

Of the more than 200 prospects selected over the weekend, four were punters. Three went in the fifth round and the fourth punter selected went in the seventh and final round. 

It’s probably not surprising that three SEC punters were picked, while the fourth was from the Big 12.

Leading the notable drafted punters was the lone SEC-exception — but this was more than just some punter out of the Big 12. It’s the reigning Ray Guy Award winner, Michael Dickson of Texas.

Dickson — far and away the best punter in college football last year — went to the Seattle Seahawks. Now he’ll get his chance to prove his worth in the NFL.

What makes this interesting was the Seahawks traded up with the Broncos to get into the position to draft Dickson, and I hope he gets every chance to succeed. Dickson was so fun to watch at Texas, and I really hope he just rocks the NFL with his punting ability. He can do it!

Later in the fifth round, two SEC punters were picked back-to-back. The Green Bay Packers picked JK Scott of Alabama, while the Oakland Raiders chose Johnny Townsend of Florida. Scott was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award. Townsend should’ve been considered for the Ray Guy Award. I did give him SEC Punter of the Year honors. I’m not sure that’s much of a consolation, though.

The Packers already have a punter, but could we see the two face off this summer? Meanwhile, the Raiders released Marquette King earlier this spring. So it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that they’d look for a punter.

Finally, in the seventh round, the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted Logan Cooke of Mississippi State. Cooke did kickoffs last season, but he’s also a pretty good punter.

Meanwhile, we do have quite a few undrafted free agent signings. The Chicago Bears got it going with their signing of Pitt punter Ryan Winslow.

What makes this move interesting is the Bears already have a solid punter in Pat O’Donnell. You can certainly make the argument that he’s one of the best in the league.

That said, O’Donnell signed a new one-year deal last month. I don’t know that there’s going to be a competition. If there is, it should be fun.

Meanwhile, Michael Carrizosa of San Jose State signed with the Cleveland Browns. Shane Tripucka of Texas A&M signed with the Los Angeles Chargers (that’s still weird to say), Trevor Daniel of Tennessee signed with the Houston Texans and the New England Patriots signed New Mexico punter Corey Bojourquez.

Those are some of the notables that signed as undrafted free agents. There were a few others, obviously. Too many to list here. You’d be here all night. You can check out more names here.

Hopefully, all of these signings get a chance to prove that they’re talented punters and maybe get the chance to play Sundays later this fall.