Tom Obarski will likely remain as a placekicker in NFL training camp, but at least will provide emergency relief as a punter and could improve enough to be an adequate kickoff specialist, an area that is still a work in progress. While he is no Greg Zuerlein (Rams) small college kicking sensation, he is poised under pressure, showing great confidence in his ability to kick for distance and in poor weather conditions.
Obarski has has a small frame, but shows good thigh and calf development. He has tunnel vision on the field, blocking out all distractions and demonstrates good speed and urgency getting down field to help the kickoff coverage unit. He has the quickness, balance, agility and leg flexibility to put full force behind his kicks from either hash. He hits the ball with a quick stride, showing steady acceleration and trajectory on his attempts.
Obarski has good mechanics to handle the multiple kicking chores, connecting with the ball with pop on contact during kickoffs, field goals and extra points. He just needs to show marked improvement getting his kickoffs to sail through the end zone more (just 51-of-173) before he can be considered NFL caliber in this area.
While he will likely not be used in the NFL to handle punting duties, he shows some ability to field snaps with ease and can adjust to the off-target snap. While he fails to generate good distance, he does possess good hang time (4.45-4.7-second average) on his punts and does a very nice job of angling his kicks towards the sidelines on pooch punts.
As a punter, Obarski has the leaping ability to field the high snaps and while his technique needs refinement, he has above average leg explosion and strength. He drops the ball and strikes it with good force, showing consistency in his get-off. He also possesses good hands and will not come across his body on his attempts.
Obarski is too inconsistent when asked to drive the ball deep on kick-offs, even when making attempts with the wind to his back. He shows adequate strength on contact with the ball, rarely driving his kickoffs deep or with any acceptable hang time.
As a placekicker, Obarski shows good snap-to-toe timing (1.29 second on field goals/1.21 on PATs). The ball can explode better off his foot as a placekicker and he has showed good improvement with his trajectory over the years (hang time was as low as 3.84 seconds earlier in his career, but his kickoffs averaged 4.28-4.54 seconds in 2014).
The ball jumps off his foot with good rise on field goals/PATs, as he can generate good lift upon contact. He just does not put nice air under his kick-offs and is prone to kicking line drives. He has generally good accuracy on his field goals (69.84% overall, but dramatically improved to 85.71% as a senior). He can kick from both hashes effectively and has adapted well to the poor, swirling winds at conference stadiums in the frigid Midwest and should not have any problems kicking during inclement weather at the next level.
That is due to Obarski’s ability to make proper adjustments in his approach to the ball, based on field and weather conditions. He’s poised and in control in pressure situations, showing confidence and concentration coming through in the clutch.
Dave-Te’ Thomas is a sports writer, talent evaluator and scouting personnel consultant for a majority of teams in the National Football League. Thomas runs a scouting information service called NFL Scouting Services and produces THE NFL Draft Report, a publication provided by league headquarters to the media in preparation for the NFL Draft.
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