Punters are afterthoughts on NFL rosters right up until they're a problem that plagues the entire special teams unit. Punters don't practice with the rest of the team, they stay off to the side usually punting in solitude and occasionally congregating with the kickers. Fans rarely think about punters unless that punter punts like Ryan Quigley.
No more Quigley is enough to excite Jets fans but they don't really need to hear anymore other than 'the new guy will better than Quigley, right?' That might change this year because the Jets brought in two different rookie punters to battle for one job. They both have ability, quality skill sets and different styles and traits. They are both Asutrailian and aren't jaded by all the bright lights and attention that comes from growing up through the traditional American football pipeline and they both have great and friendly attitudes.
Lachlan Edwards, the team's seventh-round pick, has a good sense of humor and a great perspective on the opportunity but it was the undrafted free agent Tom Hackett that won the day with his refreshingly delightful sense of humor.
With the two punters being from Austrailia Hackett was asked if they knew each other and said with his loveable Austriailian accent, "Heard of each other, but I just met him at the combine. We're good. We're rooming together so I said, s#!* we better become good friends for the next seven weeks. Could be Hell if we don't, right, so we'll be fine."
Hackett won the Ray Guy Award, for the best punter in college, and was thought by many to be the best punter in this draft, but his Austrailian style of rolling out to punt had NFL teams hesitant to take him. Draft Twitter was mildly surprised Hackett didn't get drafted, but he himself wasn't.
"No because I'm 5-11. 5-11, about 195, you know, I blend in with society pretty well," Hackett joked. "And, you know, front office, GMs, NFL like 6-5, 225-pound punters who can smack it, and that's not who I am. So, I'm trying to change the way NFL punters punt the ball. If I can win the job, I'll take it from there.
"But I wasn't expecting to win the Ray Guy Award, I wasn't expecting to get drafted, so, you know, little less expectations the better it can go, I feel like."
Edwards is that prototypical big punter who can smack it. Edwards is 6-4, 209-pounds and has a crazy strong boot with excellent hang time.
"I've got long legs, I can hit those big balls, so I'm going to use that to my advantage, my power," Edwards said. "I've got good control coming in and then I got that leg for when we need it, punting out of the end zone and stuff, so I'm pretty confident with that, I'm a well rounded guy. If I can just keep honing in on my placement of the ball on the field then I'll be the guy."
Edwards says his strength as a punter is his power and hang time, Hackett says his strength is in directional kicking.
"I'm a directional kicker, I punt the ball out of the sidelines. It's not going to go 60 yards, but when the ball's on the ground, it's the same as the ball being in the air," Hackett said. "If you've got Devin Hester back there, I'm not going to let him touch the ball. I'm not going to let that happen. I didn't let it happen in college, same thing in the NFL, you know. If they want to put two men back there they can, but that's just one less guy at the line of scrimmage.
"It's just a game, that's all it is. Keep them guessing."
For once there might actually be an exciting punter battle to watch, but admittedly that could be some media bias because reporters are already salivating at the future quotes that are certain to come from these two Austrailian punters.
Chris Nimbley is the Editor-in-Chief of JetsInsider.com/NYJScout.com. He can be reached on Twitter (@cnimbley), or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org)null