NY Jets’ rookie sixth-round punter Braden Mann boasts quite an interesting background.
While the attention has understandably been on the likes of first-round pick Mekhi Becton and second-round pick Denzel Mims, the significance of Mann shouldn’t be understated.
Mann was one of the most prolific punters not only during his time in the FBS, but perhaps in college football history. The Texas native was named the 2018 Ray Guy Award winner and went on to earn unanimous All-American honors.
And in that same season, he broke the single-season punting average record of 50.28 set back in 1997. His countless collegiate honors and solidified place in the record books place him among the NCAA greats at the position.
For that reason, many believe he will have a long, fruitful career in the NFL.
But we’ve all heard about his on-field accomplishments. We’ve seen every bit of Braden Mann tape that there is to see — and if you haven’t you’re doing something wrong because it is glorious.
So what about Mann’s life off the field? You know about his success at Texas A&M, but what about the background that originally led him to that success?
We take a look at three things that you might not have known about Braden Mann.
Next: 3. He comes from a long line of Aggies punters
3. NY Jets’ punter Braden Mann comes from a long line of Aggies punters
Now, this first entry isn’t so much about Mann as it is about his college lineage.
You’ve heard the titles of “DB-U” and “WR-U” thrown around a bunch. They’re meant to signify the colleges that have produced the most NFL talent at a certain position.
Well, if that honor applied to specialists then Texas A&M would undoubtedly be declared “Punter-U.”
Mann is the latest in a long line of Aggies punters to excel at College Station and make their way into the NFL. In recent years, the likes of Shane Tripucka and Drew Kaser have found success in the college ranks with the latter being drafted in the sixth round back in 2016.
But dating even further back, the likes of Yale Lary and Steve O’Neal starred at Texas A&M before going on to find success in the NFL. Lary was a nine-time Pro Bowler in the 1950s and 60s while O’Neal was actually drafted by the Jets back in 1969.
Perhaps the most notable name to most NFL fans, however, will be longtime Oakland Raiders punter Shane Lechler. Mann has drawn comparisons to Lechler including from NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper ahead of the draft.
“I remember when Shane Lechler came out of Texas A&M as a fifth-round pick (in 2000) to the Raiders. Braden Mann, like Shane Lechler, should have a long career in the NFL. He’s consistent and he can boom it. Lechler was exactly that same way, and I think Braden Mann can be that type of punter — a Pro Bowl-caliber punter in the NFL.”
If Mann is anything like Lechler, then Jets fans should rest easy knowing they could have one of the NFL’s best punters for years to come.
And if he’s got anything going for him, it’s his alma mater.
Next: 2. He would have been drafted if he came out last year
2. NY Jets’ punter Braden Mann would have been drafted if he came out last season
For college football fans who pay attention to the specialist positions, Mann wasn’t exactly a new name this draft season. In fact, it was his 2018 season that truly garnered him nationwide acclaim.
That was the year he won the Ray Guy Award given to the nation’s top punter and broke the single-season punting average record. He was also named a unanimous All-American and voted the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year.
After a season like that, he was surely considered an NFL prospect.
Mann was left with the choice of turning pro and almost certainly getting drafted or returning for his senior season to finish his degree, Evidently, he chose the latter option.
The 22-year-old still finished in the top-five in yards per punt just one yard shy of the FBS leader. And if anything, his decision to return only solidified his draft stock.
Mann was one of just a handful of specialists invited to the 2020 NFL Combine and he coupled that with an appearance in the Senior Bowl.
It’s a testament to Mann’s dedication to his education that he was willing to risk his draft status and put his NFL dream on hold just to return to Texas A&M for one more season and finish his degree.
That’s a rarity in today’s NFL, but Mann proved to be the exception. And in his case, it clearly worked out.
Next: 1. He played linebacker in high school
1. NY Jets’ punter Braden Mann played linebacker in high school
Braden Mann is well-known for his versatility on special teams having come to Texas A&M as both a punter and kicker. And before he took over the punter job in his junior season, Mann served as the team’s kickoff specialist — a role he could very well fill with the Jets.
He could pretty much do it all on special teams, but that wasn’t where Mann originally had aspirations of playing.
Once upon a time, Mann was a standout linebacker at Cy-Fair High School in Cypress, Texas making plays and gaining a reputation for his hard-hitting style.
Unfortunately, that physical style cost him and the future college punter fractured his back as a sophomore. It was at that moment that he decided to switch to special teams to pursue his NFL dream.
Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle detailed Mann’s high-school position switch.
“He wanted to do anything he could to play college football, and special teams seemed the best route. Based on that wise decision in high school, however, Mann has earned a chance to take it to yet another level in football.”
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At just 5-foot-11 and 198 pounds, he likely wouldn’t have had much of a future at linebacker even if he didn’t get injured. But that doesn’t mean there still aren’t shades of his linebacker past in his game today.
Mann became known for his tackling abilities in college making 13 over his four years at Texas A&M including a whopping seven in 2019 alone.
In fact, he even forced a fumble that was recovered for a turnover back in 2018 and narrowly missed forcing another one on future first-round receiver Henry Ruggs that was ruled a fumble but later overturned.
Braden Mann is more than just your average punter. He’s a hard-hitting specialist with a linebacker background who isn’t afraid to lay down the hit stick from time to time.
He’s a punter, a kicker, a kickoff specialist, a holder, and a linebacker all in one. He is Braden Mann — the most versatile specialist in the game of football.