Scouting the special teams prospects

As part of our series previewing the NFL draft, we examine the top prospects at every position. This installment features the specialists.

Overall class strength: What makes a good draft for the specialists is having one first-day kicking prospect, and there is no such guy this year. There will be a handful of punters and kickers drafted, but there are some intriguing return specialists available.

The best: Connor Hughes, Virginia (kicker); Josh Huston, Ohio State (kicker); John Torp, Colorado (punter); Devin Hester, Miami (kick returner); Jeremy Bloom, Colorado (kick returner)

The next wave: Ryan Plackemeier, Wake Forest (punter); Stephen Gostkowski, Memphis (kicker); Sam Paulescu, Oregon State (punter); Skyler Green, LSU (kick returner); Willie Reid, Florida State (kick returner)

Possible sleepers: Jon Scifres, Missouri State (kicker); Andre Hall, South Florida (kick returner)

First-round projections: None

Quick hits: Scifres is the younger brother of San Diego Chargers punter Mike Scifres. … Hester played both wide receiver and cornerback at Miami, but could never find a niche at either position. … Bloom, whose college football career ended because he received skiing sponsorships, had five touchdowns of 75 yards or longer in two seasons at Colorado. … Marshall's Jeff Mullins, Texas A&M's Boone Stutz and Georgia Tech's Gavin Tarquino all were invited to the scouting combine because of their long-snapping ability. … Cal punter David Lonie is a 26-year-old Australian who competed for his country in the decathlon and pole vault in the 1996 Pan Pacific Games.


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