After the New York Jets drafted Lachlan Edwards in the seventh round and signed Tom Hackett as an undrafted free agent, they are set to have a tight competition for the starting spot at punter.
After a horrific season of punting from Ryan Quigley, the Jets decided to address the position through the draft and free agency. They drafted Edwards, a consistent punter out of Sam Houston State in the seventh round and added Hackett out of Utah State as an undrafted free agent. Both young punters are very talented, and it should make for an intriguing competition in training camp.
Last season, the Jets found out how important your punter truly is due to the ineptitude of Quigley. He made multiple mistakes that proved to be detrimental to the NFL Playoff chances of the Jets. The final straw for Quigley was an absolute shank in the infamous Week 17 season finale debacle against Buffalo.
Feb 24, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Sam Houston State kicker Loc Edwards speaks to the media during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
The first potential replacement for Quigley, Edwards, is a very intriguing prospect. He is twenty-four-years old and he started punting in 2012. Aside from football, Edwards also has a background in rugby, track and cricket further proving his overall athletic ability.
The Australian native posted some very solid statistics over the course of his time at Sam Houston State. Edwards averaged nearly 43 yards per punt and he got 45 punts inside the twenty yard line over the course of his collegiate career. The aspect of his game Edwards prides himself the most on is hang time.
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Then there is the Jets’ undrafted free agent signee in Hackett from Utah State. Hackett is twenty-three-years old and he started punting in 2011. Hackett does not have nearly the height, build or athletic ability of Edwards, but his statistics in college were significantly more impressive than those of Edwards.
Hackett won the prestigious Ray Guy award in 2015 for being the nation’s top punter. He averaged an astonishing 48 yards per punt over the course of the 2015 season, tallying a total of 2,295 yards. These stats make it hard to believe that Hackett was not drafted, but there have been multiple reports saying that scouts were unable to get an accurate hang-time from Hackett.
Though one of the Jets punters was drafted and one was not, it seems as if the competition between the two will be very tightly contested. Both prospects are young and talented, yet they both have different strengths and different weaknesses that will come to the surface.
Edwards is clearly more physically and athletically gifted while Hackett’s stats and accolades make him appear to be the more proven punter. So the big question now becomes, which style of punter will end up winning out, becoming the future of punting for the Jets?
When training camp ends and the dust settles, Hackett will be the punter of the Jets. This conclusion is so because at punter, numbers and accolades simply do not lie. The transition from college to the NFL is not as significant for punters, and Hackett’s sensational college success will translate well in the pros making him one of the league’s best at the position.