Cal punter Bryan Anger was the first specialist selected in this year's NFL draft. It wasn't necessarily a surprise that he was the first, as he was highly rated in most rankings, however it did cause a stir among most fans and media when he went early - the seventh pick in the third round by Jacksonville. Then again many fans and media focus solely on offense and defense, and feel that special teams players should either be drafted late or never.
Various parties commented on the selection, beginning with Bryan Anger himself:
"I felt kind of numb for a second. My heart started racing a little bit. It’s been a long process, but it is great to get some certainty in my life. I’m excited to be a Jaguar. I’ve heard plenty of good things about their organization.... I really had no clue what was going to happen. There were a handful of teams I thought it could be. I hit it off with the Jacksonville coach when he came out for the workout."
Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey:
"He can be a difference maker. Based on where you are in the draft and what's been taken in certain spots, we felt like this was a good pick for us.... If that one play is a punt that backs up a team inside the 20, maybe people don't know that and there can be a backlash, but that could be the difference in the game.... It's not that exciting, but there really is a difference when you come down to the meat and potatoes of the game."
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe tweeted:
"Shane Lechler would like to remind you that punters can be worth drafting."
Calgary Stampeders kicker Rob Maver:
"Big fan of the move. Despite new rules minimizing the effect of special teams, it's great to see teams continue to place high value on players who can help them in this area!"Nathan Chapman, Prokick Australia:
"If the kid is very good, why not use it on a punter, if a punter can change the field then doesn't that allow the offense to get aggressive and go for it without the fear of defending a short field. This is the start of many 3rd round pick ups I say."
Filip Filipovic, The Kicking Coach:
"If a kicker or a punter separates himself from the rest by having a very strong leg and a track record of several years of consistent performances in college, he is worthy of getting drafted in early rounds. Guys like Janikowski, Lechler, Maynard, etc. are a good example of guys who definitely deserved their high selections. Every once in a while, a specialist gets hot toward the end of his college career, and manages to have few great workouts right before the draft, and tricks teams into drafting him high. When in reality, he is a mediocre NFL specialist at best. Drafting a specialist in early rounds is no different than drafting any other position player. It carries a healthy signing bonus and high expectations to accompany it. Sometimes it works out for both player and the team. Other times it works out just for the player."
Chris Shaw, Kicknation:
"Punters are the most explosive game changers on Special Teams. If they are effective at putting the ball in the corners with consistency then its a worthwhile pick for a team. Congrats to the Cal Bears Punter."