The Green Bay Packers threw everyone for a loop on Saturday afternoon with the 172nd overall selection, when they drafted Alabama punter JK Scott. Scott was the second punter drafted, following Seattle’s trade up for Michael Dickson from Texas.
The prospect of drafting a punter at all is an unpopular one around Green Bay, as it likely brings back memories of Mike Sherman trading up into the third round to select B.J. Sander in 2004. That combined with the general positional value of punters made this pick quite the shock.
However, the biggest cause for confusion about the pick may be the fact that the Packers seemed to have finally found a solid punter last season in Justin Vogel. Vogel earned the punting job last season after signing as an undrafted rookie free agent and proceeded to set the Packers’ record for single-season net punting average. That seemingly had him locked in as Green Bay’s punter moving forward, at least until this draft selection.
Both punters possess big legs, with the ability to get off a booming kick. However, Scott does have a few qualities that may give him an edge over Vogel. The first is his ability to place punts inside the 20-yard line — he placed at least 25 punts inside the 20 in each of his four years at Alabama. Vogel, meanwhile, appeared to focus more on forcing fair catches and avoiding touchbacks, but he had just 19 punts land inside the 20 for the Packers in 2017.
Another area where Scott is experienced is as a holder on place-kicks. The Packers’ kicking operation was less smooth last season than it had been in the past with Tim Masthay serving as the holder. While Vogel cannot be held entirely responsible for that — the team’s revolving door of long snappers was also a key factor — the fact is that he did show some shakiness in that area.
Finally, Scott is also adept as a kickoff specialist, with 57 touchbacks on 133 career attempts. Mason Crosby has handled those duties in Green Bay over the years, but is regarded as average at best in that area.
For now, it appears from the above qualities and the investment of a draft pick are likely to give Scott an early leg up in a competition against Vogel. However, this is sure to be a legitimate competition through OTAs and training camp this season.