Here are the top 5 prospects among kickers, punters, returners and long-snappers for the NFL draft (with their draft-round projections for the kickers and punters):
1. Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds (fifth/sixth round): Clutch kicker from Sprayberry High. Made four field goals in a game three times over his career, at Kentucky in 2016; vs. Missouri in 2017; vs. Missouri, 2019; vs. Texas A&M, 2019. His longest field goal was 55 yards against Oklahoma in 2019. He was chosen first-team All-American by USA Today, AFCA Coaches, Sports Illustrated, Walter Camp, Bleacher Report and Pro Football Focus. "He should be the first kicker off the board," NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote.
» MORE: Rodrigo Blankenship can impact games at next level
2. Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern, 5-11, 185 (seventh round): He handled all the field goals, PATs and kickoffs over 13 games for the Eagles last season. He made a school-record 20 field goals on 28 attempts, made all 36 PATs and led the team with 96 points scored. He had 55 touchbacks on 72 kickoffs. He made a 47-yard field goal at No. 6 LSU in the season opener. Overall, Bass had 198 touchbacks on 268 kickoffs (73.9 percent). He has a career-long field goal of 50 yards and showed off a strong leg at the Senior Bowl.
3. Samuel Sloman, Miami (Ohio), 5-8, 198 (seventh round/free agent): Made 112 of 115 extra-point attempts (97.4%) and 49 of 62 field-goal attempts (79%).
4. JJ Molson, UCLA, 5-11, 182 (free agent): Also kicks off. He had 53 of 61 kickoffs (87%) go for touchbacks. Made 51 field goals over his career, which ranks sixth on the school's all-time list.
5. Cooper Rothe, Wyoming, 5-11, 178 (free agent): Played 52 games for the Cowboys. Made 165 of 169 extra-point attempts and 59 of 77 field-goal attempts (76.6%) over his career.
1. Braden Mann, Texas A&M, 5-11, 198 (fifth round): Averaged 48.9 yards per punt over his career. Also handled kickoffs.
2. Michael Turk, Arizona State, 6-1, 226 (seventh round/free agent): He is the nephew of former NFL punter Matt Turk, who played 19 seasons. Averaged 46 yards per punt.
3. Joseph Charlton, South Carolina, 6-5, 195 (seventh round/free agent): He averaged 45.5 yards per punt over 171 boots.
4. Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse, 5-10, 196 (free agent): He averaged 43.2 yards per punt.
5. Jake Hartbarger, Michigan State, 6-4, 195 (free agent): Cold-weather booter, who averaged 42.5 yards over 249 punts for the Spartans.
Returners: Virginia's Joe Reed, Kentucky's Lynn Bowden, Arizona State's Brandon Aiyuk, TCU's Jalen Reagor and Penn State's K.J. Hamler.
Long-snappers: LSU's Blake Ferguson, Ohio State's Liam McCullough, Iowa State's Steve Wirtel, Stanford's Richard McNitzky and Tulane's Geron Eatherly.
» Here's a look back at the top kickers and punters in the 2016 draft.
Teams in need. Falcons, Chicago, Cleveland, Houston and Dallas.
Need area for Falcons. Yes, the Falcons need a kicker to compete with Younghoe Koo and did not re-sign their primary kickoff and punt returner Kenjon Barner.
Top 5 seniors for 2021 draft. Kickers -- Kansas State's Blake Lynch, South Florida's Cody Weiss, Arizona State's Brandon Ruiz, Michigan State's Matt Coghlin and Michigan's Jacoby Moody. Punters --- Ohio State's Drue Chrisman, Kent State's Derek Adams, Penn State's Blake Gillikin, Virginia Tech's Oscar Bradburn and Kentucky's Max Duffy.
AJC’s 2020 POSITION BY POSITION DRAFT SERIES
Quarterbacks: Joe Burrow leads class | Top 10
Running backs: Cam Akers' life lesson | Top 10
Tight ends: Harrison Bryant top prospect | Top 10
Guards/Centers: Solomon Kindley a late-rounder | Top 10
Offensive tackles: Austin Jackson's life lesson | Top 10
Wide receivers: Jeudy or Lamb | Top 10
Defensive tackles: Brown, Kinlaw stand out | Top 10
Defensive ends: A 'generational' talent | Top 10
Linebackers: Simmons a position-less LB | Top 10
Safeties: Loaded with Georgia talent | Top 10
Special Teams: Rodrigo Blankenship tops list | Top 10
Part 12: Cornerbacks
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