Ryan Wright Draws Solid Punter Ranking
Quietly becoming a fan favorite, punter Ryan Wright had some great moments in his debut season. The Vikings signed him as an undrafted rookie to compete with Jordan Berry, the incumbent punter; surprisingly, the rookie beat out the veteran. Berry was cut even a few days before the roster had to be trimmed down to 53 players. Wright is not only getting credit within the fanbase but also in the national media.
Ryan Wright Draws Solid Punter Ranking
Position and player rankings are the classic things to do in the calm period before the training camps begin. Justin Jefferson was recently snubbed from a top-five receiver list and quarterback rankings are always an easy way to create some controversy.
A rather unusual ranking subject is punters but that didn’t stop John Breech from CBS Sports to do it anyway. Vikings punter Wright ranks 10th on his list.
Breech explained why it is hard to rank players at the position: “Almost every punter in the NFL is asked to do their job differently: Some are asked to kick it out of bounds, some are asked to keep the ball near the sideline without putting it out of bounds, some are asked to boot the ball as far as they can while others are asked to shoot for a big hang time so that the returner will be forced into a fair catch. When kicking near the end zone, some are asked to attempt a coffin corner kick while others will pooch the ball high into the air hoping it sits inside the 10.”
Not only is Wright’s leg getting some praise but also his arm. He completed a pass on a fake punt when he linked up with fellow rookie Jalen Nailor against the Saints in London.
After going undrafted in 2022, the former Tulane punter ended up signing with the Vikings and it didn’t [take] him long to beat out Jordan Berry for the starting job.
In the first six weeks of the season, it became pretty clear that the Vikings made a smart decision by keeping Wright. In Week 4 Wright proved that he can do more than punt when he converted a key fourth down with a 13-yard pass that gave Minnesota a first down.
In Week 6 against the Dolphins, Wright punted the ball 10 times, a total that included a booming 73-yard punt out of his own end zone, a kick the Vikings desperately needed in a game they ended up winning 24-16.John Breech
Another outstanding play was the mentioned punt against the Dolphins that had the return man backpedaling a full 20 yards. He completely flipped the field and it made some national spotlight. However, there was one other play right after the Vikes cut Berry. It was the final preseason game and Wright clinched the starting gig. He unleashed maybe the best punt you will ever see in your life.
A ball stopping like that at the two-yard line is simply an exceptional play.
Although Wright finished outside the top 10 in both punting average (47.4) and net punting average (42.5), he more than made up for that with his ball placement. Not only did the rookie have the lowest touchback percentage in the NFL — he punted just one touchback on 73 punts — but he also ranked fifth with the percentage of his punts that he placed inside his opponents’ 20-yard line (44.7%). Those are two key categories for a punter and the fact that Wright ranked in the top-five in both is why he made this list.John Breech
As Breech explained, punt averages should always be taken with a grain of salt because field position and coaching points vary. However, he has only produced one touchback despite putting many punts close to the endzone and that touchback was on Nailor who whiffed an attempt to down the ball inside the five-yard line.
It will be fun to see if Wright can improve and be more consistent in his second season and if he can add some more highlight plays.
Janik Eckardt is a football fan who likes numbers and stats. The Vikings became his favorite team despite their quarterback at the time, Christian Ponder. He is a walking soccer encyclopedia, loves watching sitcoms, and Classic rock is his music genre of choice. Follow him on Twitter if you like the Vikings: @JanikEckardt