Mike and I talked at length about kicking specialists. He agreed that not many people really know how to evaluate and rank kicking specialists and that is why even he calls many NFL Special Teams Coaches to get their opinions and rankings.
I mentioned that I'm always available for evaluations, interviews or information to any network or writer to promote specialists and the kicking game.
During the last two days and evenings I got a chance to introduce myself to all the 2009 NFL Combine Kicking Specialists either at the Crown Plaza Hotel or at the meetings areas. I must say there was a wide variety of personalities present this week.
Some of the specialists were very quiet and others you might say were not so quiet. Everyone prepares for games and competition in various ways. This is why teams and coaches interview most of the players present. Teams do not just draft players because of talent, intelligence and personalities play a big part in teams evaluations.
Today was an exciting day for me because it was the first day of workouts and the kicking specialists were up at 1:00 PM trying to impress the 32 NFL GM's, Head Coaches, Special Teams Coaches and personnel people.
This morning while the players were finishing up on tests and other meeting with Combine officials and preparing for their workout I was working the stadium looking for Special Teams Coaches.
I was really proud of myself. Before the workout started at 1:00 PM I actually talked to 30 of 32 Special Teams Coaches in person and handed them my lists of Free Agents I will have at my April 6th Free Agent Specialists NFL Combine in Scottsdale, Arizona. Of the two Special Team Coaches I didn't see I did talk to the Directors of Pro Personnel for their teams.
Today I talked to the following Special Teams Coaches:
Bobby April - Bills
Alan Lowry - Titans
Joe Marciano - Texans
Jerry Rosburg - Ravens
Danny Smith - Redskins
Tom Quinn - Giants
Rich Bisaccia - Buccaneers
Steve Hoffman - new K.C. Chiefs Coach
Mike Priefer - former K.C. and current Broncos Coach
Ted Daisher - former Browns and current Eagles Coach
Danny Grossman - Carolina
John Bonamego - Dolphins
Brian Murphy - new Viking Coach
Tom McMahon - new Rams Coach
Ray Rychleski - new Colts Coach
Bobby DePaul - Director Pro Personnel Chicago Bears
The workout began on time and the players all warmed up. The snappers started the event with some individual work while the punters were warming up. A couple of the NFL Coaches put Sean Griffin (Michigan) and Jacob Ingram (Hawaii) through some snapping drills.
When Sean and Jacob finished snapping for the drills the snappers they now had to snap for the punting workout. The punters each punted 14 balls. They started with 8 open field punts and finished with 6 directional pooch punts.
I recorded hang times and distances. I really didn't care about get offs because most of the punters didn't have the luxury of punting with a snapper the last two months. I was simply evaluating their style, technique and potential. In other words leg strength and explosion.
The order for the Punters was #1 Justin Brantly (Texas A & M), #3 Britton Colquitt (Tennessee), #4 Matt Fodge (Oklahoma State), #5 Graham Gano (Florida State), #6 Kevin Huber (Cincinnati), #8 Tim Masthay (Kentucky), and #9 Thomas Morstead (SMU).
After the punting workout was finished they progressed to evaluating everyone that wanted to kickoff.
This section is always important to me and the other coaches because you can see who has a big leg! Every so often even if a kicker or punter might not have the talent or potential to be the starting kicker or punter he might be able to make a roster as a kickoff specialists.
The kickoff workout consisted of a total of 11 kickoffs. The first 5 kickoffs were straight down the middle. We recorded hang times and distances. The last 6 kickoffs were directional. Three kickoffs to the right corner and three to the left.
The order for Kickoffs was #2 David Buehler (USC), #3 Britton Colquitt, #4 Matt Fodge, #5 Graham Gano, #7 Jose Martinez (UTEP), #8 Tim Masthay, #9 Thomas Morstead, #10 Louie Sakoda (Utah), and #10 Sam Swank (Wake Forest).
I must say a couple of players not only impressed me but also the other coaches in the stadium. They had good strong and powerful legs. At least this year there were several kickoffs into the end zone with excellent hang times.
The field goal workout was last. The field goal workout consisted of an elevation drill and progressed to a 15 field goal workout from both hashes.
Each kicker had 3 kicks at each distance. They alternated hashes starting with 30 yard field goals and progressed back to 35, 40 and 45 yards. The last 3 kicks were from 50 yards right down the middle.
Once again the order was set by numbers: #2 David Buehler, #3 Britton Colquitt, #5 Graham Gano, #7 Jose Martinez, #9 Thomas Morstead, #10 Louie Sakoda and #11 Sam Swank.
This was one of the first years the NFL Combine let several players do multiple events. Britton Colquitt (Tennessee), and Thomas Morstead both punted, kicked off and kicked field goals. The guys were dead tired at the end of the workout.
Then at the end of the workout they had the kicking specialist do the 225 pound bench press test. None of the special teams coaches attended because they were all sprinting to the airport to catch flights. However I did observe the event. This is optional for the kickers and punters however, the snappers always get tested.
David Buehler, Tim Masthay and Thomas Morstead all participated in the bench press workout. This really isn't important to us coaches. All we care is how far, how straight and how high the guys can kick or punt the football.
For the record Thomas Morstead had the first most impressive 19 reps but was out done by 25 reps by David Buehler.
The event is over for me. I now have all the information I need to evaluate these players to all the other players around the country that did not get invited to the NFL Combine.
Last year two of the players I trained in March, Brett Kern (Broncos) and Garrett Hartley (Saints) both earned spots on NFL rosters as free agents. Brett, Garrett along with Brandon Cantu (Seahawks), Conner Barth (Chiefs), Steve Hauschka (Ravens), and Dan Carpenter (Dolphins) all made NFL rosters as free agents and none of them were here at the combine.
The players that attended the NFL Combine have a leg up on some of the other talent because they were showcased here. However, the NFL has a lot of scouts and personnel people. Every NFL team that needs a kicking specialist will be beating the bushes for the best player to fill their situation.
Last year Denver Broncos General Manager & Personnel, Jim Goodman asked me to find them a punter and kicker. I recommended Brett Kern and Garrett Hartley. After the draft the Broncos signed both players to free agent contracts. I must be doing something right.
Stay Tuned for more of Coach Zauner's Blog from the NFL Combine.