If you were listening to Cat Scratch Radio Tuesday night you heard us discussing what roster moves the Panthers might still have yet to make. One James threw in came true the following day as punter Jason Baker was cut in what was described as 'a salary cap' move. Baker performance had declined the past two seasons and he was on the final year of back end loaded contract, at least for a punter. So it really wasn't that much of a surprise other than he's been around for seven seasons.
There is certainly a good chance the Panthers bring in a veteran punter to replace Baker but I'm predicting they also spend a late round draft pick on a punter. I have two leading reasons for this prediction, the obvious being the fact a rookie punter will be cheap but also because this is a very strong draft class for punters. There are potentially four punters that could get drafted in this class when some drafts include a whole zero punters.
We will look at all four of the prospects... after the jump...
At Walter Football, the consensus top punter has a great football name:
Bryan Anger, P, California
Height: 6-4. Weight: 207.
Projected Round (2011): 5-7.
3/5/12: Anger is the consensus top-rated punter in the draft. He averaged 44.3 yards per punt in 2011. Anger had 18 punts of 50 or more yards, with 19 punts placed inside the 20. He has a strong and accurate leg. Anger was an All conference punter the past three seasons.
I bet he kicks the ball with anger...;) Round five is pretty high for a punter so it will be interesting to see who pulls the trigger first. When Anger goes off the board we might then see a run on the remaining two or three guys below.
Next is the leading punter in the NCAA's for 2011 (if you don't have a minimum number of attempts rule:
Shawn Powell - Florida State
12/29/2011 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: P Shawn Powell would have been the nation's leading punter with a 47.0 yard average, but he does not have enough attempts. Still, he has enabled FSU to lead the nation in net punting. Powell has dropped 43-percent of his kicks inside the opponents' 20. He changed the game against Florida with booming punts the led to FSU's defense being in great field position to thwart the Gators offense. - The Sports Xchange
The best directional punter of the group might be this guy:
Kyle Martens, P, Rice
Height: 6-6. Weight: 230.
Projected Round (2011): 7-FA.
3/5/12: Marstens averaged 43.6 yards per punt in 2011. He had punts of 60+ yards four times with punts of 50+ in 10-of-12 games. Martens had over 20 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.
Last but certainly not least is the local favorite, the Bulldog from Athens:
Drew Butler - University of Georgia
01/04/2012 - 2012 SENIOR BOWL INVITE: Butler was an Honorable Mention All-SEC selection by the Associated Press this season. He punted 51 times for 2,260 yards, averaging 44.3 yards per punt-which ranks second in the SEC and 13th in the country. He had 16 punts of 50 yards or more and downed 19 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line. The son of former NFL great and 1985 Senior Bowler Kevin Butler, Drew set an SEC Championship game record against LSU with a 51.6 yards per punt average, including a season-long 62 yarder.
Butler enjoyed his best season as a sophomore, taking home the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter and earning unanimous first team All-America honors in the process. For his career, the Duluth, Georgia native punted for 7,283 yards, averaging 45.5 yards per punt. He had 56 punts of 50 yards or more and booted 58 punts inside the 20-yard line. A member of UGA's Team of the Decade, Butler's career long punt came in 2009--a 75-yarder against Oklahoma State. - SeniorBowl.com
Butler doesn't quite have the stats the others do but he is a fiery competitor that seems to play best when the pressure is on, exactly what you want from a punter. Clutch kicks...
So do you agree the Panthers will draft one of these four punters?