Top Ten 2014 Draft Prospects: Kickers and Punters Edition
Learn More About the Kickers and Punters From the 2014 NFL Combine
2014 NFL Off-Season
Tomorrow, I pinky promise, we’ll get to the QBs. I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to see that rundown. Patience is a virtue, y’all. Today, though, we’ll break down the specialists (read: kickers and punters) who appeared at the combine this year. These guys don’t get much glory (unless they kick a game clinching 50-yarder), but they’re an integral part of this sport we all love. There aren’t many kickers and punters in the 2014 class, and a number of them are likely to end-up as undrafted free agents, but here are the best options available if your team is in need.
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1. Kirby Van Der Kamp (P-Iowa State) - Van Der Kamp is the current record holder for the most punts in Big 12 history (289, if you were curious) and gained loads of experience as a four year starter. One of Van Der Kamp’s best qualities is that he’s versatile; he can kick for distance or accuracy with equal effectiveness.
2. Chris Boswell (K-Rice) - If you’ve ever heard Boswell’s name before, it’s because of the 56-yarder he nailed against Kansas in 2013. Boswell has enough leg strength to consistently make 50+ yard attempts, which will make him appealing to NFL front offices, especially if they’re looking for kick-off specialists.
3. Cairo Santos (K-Tulane) - Santos, who hails from Brazil, has a soccer background and has excellent 50+ yard accuracy. Santos is only 5’8, 164 pounds, but has been working on boosting his leg strength consistently, which shows that he is dedicated to the game.
4. Cody Mandell (P-Alabama) - Mandell was the first-string punter for Bama all four years of his college career. Mandell was not unimpressive at the combine, posting top performances in both the 40 and the vertical jump. A walk-on collegiate player, Mandell has proven that he has the drive, dedication, and focus (this kid has appeared in multiple National Championships) to make it in the NFL.
5. Tom Hornsey (P-Memphis) - Hornsey, an Australian, improved every season throughout his college years, earning the Ray Guy Award in 2013. Hornsey posted 13 60+ yard punts as an NCAA player and is likely to be a priority free agent post-draft.
6. Pat O’Donnell (P-Miami) - During his time with the ‘Canes, O’Donnell started all four years. O’Donnell’s biggest downfall is that he has a tendency to overanalyze plays when he should be, ya know, playing. 6’4, 220 pound O’Donnell does have good size, though, and was a top combine performer in the 40, the vertical jump, and bench press.
7. Cody Parkey (K-Auburn) - Parkey’s biggest strength is his ability to handle pressure on a major stage. As a three year starter in the SEC, Parkey kicked numerous game-winning field goals in the national spotlight (and on national television). Parkey is likely to be a priority free agent once the draft concludes.
8. Richie Leone (P-Houston) - Leone, at 6’3, 211 pounds, has nice size and incredibly strong legs. Leone both punted and kicked-off during his college career as a four year starter. In time, Leone could turn into an NFL starter if he continues to carefully hone his skills and his body.
9. Anthony Fera (K-Texas) - Fera, who started his career with the Nittany Lions and eventually made his way to the Longhorns, didn’t miss a FG inside the 40 during his senior season. Fera has also served as a punter and kick-off specialist, so he has versatility. The odds are good that Fera will become a priority free agent and try to make his mark during training camp.
10. Marcus Heit (LS-Kansas State) - Lest we leave out the long snappers of the world, here are some deets on Heit. Heit was perfect on all 365 snaps in college. An average player, Heit probably won’t be taken on draft day, but he could become a serviceable, if far from standout, pro.