NFL Draft Talk Volume LI
As the NFL draft draws closer and closer here are some questions that are circulating that pertain to prospects and their draft stock as well as their potential and projected impacts at the next level. Who are some draftable specialist that could hear their names called on day three? Last year the Seattle Seahawks made a bit of a surprise pick in the fifth round of last year’s draft when they selected a punter out of Texas with the 149th overall pick when many believed that the team still had a lot of needs to fill on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. However, all of those that questioned their decision to spend a mid-round pick on Michael Dickson had to eat their words when the 2018 season came and went because all the Australian born specialist quickly became one of the best specialists in the game as a rookie. He was named first team unanimous All-Pro, averaged over 48 yards per boot with a long of 69, had 28 punts downed inside the 20 and dazzled the league with some of his creative rugby style dropkicks and even performed kickoff duties at times. Here are some talented special teams’ aces in this year’s draft that could follow in Dickson’s footsteps and actually get drafted even though they play just a handful of snaps on Sundays come fall: • P/K Jamie Gillan, UA Pine Bluff: Like Dickson, he is a foreign-born prospect with a rugby background and earned the nickname the “Scottish Hammer” because of his play on the field and for the fact that he grew up in Scotland after being born in England. Gillan is almost a carbon copy of Dickson when it comes to his ability to convert long bombs off of dropkicks and the Scottish Hammer can also lay down the hammer with huge hits while covering his own kicks. • LS Dan Godsil, Indiana: Typically long snappers receive even less pre-draft buzz than kickers and punters and are rarely drafted but the former Hoosier could prove to be the exception this year after videos of him hitting targets on trick shots with surgical precision have gone viral over the past few months preceding the draft. Godsil could realistically hear his name called somewhere in the sixth or seventh round next weekend. • QB Trace McSorley, Penn State: The former Nittany Lion can thank New Orleans Saints swiss army utility player Taysom Hill for forging a new path for players like him that played quarterback in college but are athletic enough to contribute in multiple facets of the game. Hill returned, cover and even blocked kicks last season for the Saints as their “Mr. Do It All” and McSorley possess the skill set to do the very same thing for any team that drafts him. He’s still determined to make it as a quarterback at the next level, but he might have to be a jack of all trades before he can earn an opportunity to consistently take snaps from under center. • K Cole Tracy, LSU: The graduate transfer was hit a lot of clutch field goals for the Tigers last season and finished the year 29-of-33 and of his four misses only one wasn’t from beyond 50 yards out. He was perfect on his extra points and his longest made field goal attempt was a 54 yarder. Tracy is the highest rated kicker in this draft and could be selected anywhere from the fourth to the seventh round. • K John Baron II, San Diego State: He was 17-of-22 for the Aztecs last year and performed well at the East-West Shrine game. Where Baron was especially proficient was from long range as he was a perfect 5-of-5 on his attempts from beyond 50 yards. He is expected to come off the board between rounds five and seven. • K Matt Gay, Utah: At 6-1 and 220 pounds, he’s bigger than the typical prospect at that position much like Aldrick Rosas (6-3 and 233 pounds) of the New York Giants who went undrafted in 2016 and made the Pro Bowl last season. Gay was very accurate during his time with the Utes connecting on 26-of-31 attempts, including a long of 55 yards. He is projected to get selected as high as the fifth round. • P Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah: Gay’s partner in crime and fellow standout specialist was also a stud during his time with the Utes and is expected to come off the board in the same range. He averaged just over 45 yards per punt and had long of 68 yards. • P Jack Fox, Rice: He’s been on the radar of a lot of scouts and talent evaluators ever since his standout performance at the East-West Shrine game. Fox averaged 45.5 yards per boot and hit a career-long 76-yard punt last season. • P Jack Bailey, Stanford: He will likely come off the board between the fifth and seventh round because of his huge leg. Bailey average 45.4 yards per punt as a junior and 44.1 in his senior season which included long of 84 yards.