Last year, the Jaguars shocked everyone by selecting a punter in the third round of the NFL Draft instead of using the pick to try and find solutions for any one of their other pressing needs. No punter had been drafted that high in over 15 years.
As a rookie, Bryan Anger was a top ten punter with an average of 47.8 yards per punt. He had a net average of 40.8 yards per punt. He landed an impressive 31 punts, of his 91 total, inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. The product out of Cal may always cause Jaguar fans to twitch, since they ignored quarterback Russell Wilson while selecting him, but he certainly had a high quality rookie season.
Louisiana Tech’s punter Ryan Allen is even better.
The senior beat out Anger and others for the Ray Guy Award in 2011 and continued his dominating college career in 2012. Last year he averaged 48 yards per punt and put on an absolute show at the Senior Bowl with a 52.4 yard average on five attempts. Allen led the nation with a net average of 43.5 yards and placed 44% of his punts inside the 20 yard line. He earned an All-American First Team nod for his season-long proficiency at his position, and also became the first punter ever to win the Ray Guy Award in back-to-back seasons.
So, with Chris Kluwe already on the roster, why I am listing Allen as potential target for the Vikings?
For starters, Kluwe’s value and standing has arguably taken a hit in recent seasons due to an increase of inconsistencies, as well as an increase in salary. Off the field, Kluwe’s ventures have soured some of the fan base, and even his special teams coach has made comments suggesting that Kluwe’s antics can be exhausting.
Kluwe is now 31 years old, coming off of a surgery to repair his left meniscus, is entering the final year of his career, and is scheduled to make $1.4 million in 2013. If the Vikings can find a way to upgrade at any position, even punter, while also saving money then they should not hesitate.
I am not saying the Vikings should use a third rounder on Allen, by any means, but I am saying that this is a kid they should keep a close eye on as day three of the Draft progresses. After all, it was just last year that the Vikings sent a decorated veteran packing after selecting rookie kicker Blair Walsh, and it couldn’t have worked out better.
Punters are people, too!
(But, they are punters, so don’t expect a highlight reel to show up here like we would have for virtually any other player of any other position in the game of football. Sorry.)