A lot has been made of the Green Bay Packers first two draft picks of cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Josh Jackson, and rightfully so. However, I believe fifth round pick J.K. Scott will be the lower round pick with a huge impact for the Green & Gold.
People talk about how much of a reach it was and that it was way too early to take a punter. Well, back in the year 2000, the Oakland Raiders took a kicker named Sebastian Janikowski in the first round. Yes, a kicker. He has turned out pretty well, playing 18 years with the Raiders before moving onto Seattle this offseason. If you were to look at that first round, he was one of the better draft picks. I know Carolina would have never taken Janikowski, but he turned out to be a better draft pick than who the Panthers did take, something called Rashard Anderson. So, if the Packers love this guy that much, and he can make a significant impact like a Janikowski, I have no problem with this pick.
I get the fact that with the Packers having struggled so mightily at getting solid punters that when they actually sign a solid one like Justin Vogel and then release him, it is a gut punch. But when you have a chance at what you think is an upgrade, you take it. Vogel was solid, but if they think Scott is a Pro Bowl caliber punter, I am all for the pick. After all, he was All-SEC his final three years at Alabama and was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award in 2017, given to the nation’s top punter.
Scott had a bit of a down year (in terms of yardage), averaging only 43 yards per punt as a senior, which was the lowest of his career. However, he averaged nearly 46 yards per punt throughout his career with the Crimson Tide, including 48 yards per punt as a freshman in 2014. This past year, he focused more on the hang time aspect.
“Last year, I was focusing more on hitting a big ball down the field,” Scott said in an interview with AL.com last year. “This year, I focused more on hang time a lot more. To get more hang time, you really have to change a lot of things in your style of punting. It’ll create issues and inconsistencies and you really have to trust the process.”
He had 42 punts in the regular season in 2017, and more than half of those punts ended in a fair catch. And he also limited Crimson Tide opponents to just three punt returns all year. After all, it does not really matter if you boot the ball 55 yards if the opponent returns it 25 yards. I would much rather have a punt of 45 with a fair catch. Obviously, if he can punt it 55 with no return, it would be even better.
Scott is a Packers fan whose family owns a summer home in Hayward, Wis., which is about an hour and a half north of Eau Claire. So, Scott being drafted by Green Bay is a nice story, as the Packers tried to bolster their special teams during the draft with the selections of not only Scott, but Alexander and long snapper Hunter Bradley as well.
The two-time National Champion was the second punter selected in the draft out of four total that were drafted. Like I mentioned at the top, if they liked him that much and he is a huge weapon in the field position battle like I think he will be, this will be a great pick. In one of Aaron Nagler’s chats, he mentioned that he heard from a scout that Scott was the best punter they’ve ever scouted.
Obviously, only time will tell, but Scott has done well so far in camp, transferring his impressive hang time over from the college game to the NFL (at least in camp). Green Bay has had four different punters in as many years, and six in the 11 years since moving on from Jon Ryan following the 2007 season. Only Tim Masthay, who was Green Bay’s punter for six seasons from 2010-2015, was the punter for more than one season. After many years of searching, I believe Scott is finally the answer to Green Bay’s punting woes.——————
Jonathon Zenk is a writer for PackersTalk.com. He is a huge Packers fan, and a graduate of The University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. You can follow Jonathon on Twitter at @jzenk42