One of the wild card positions for the Baltimore Ravens heading into next week’s draft is punter.
With one punter currently on the roster, seven-year veteran Sam Koch, the Ravens may opt to add another punter through the draft to give Koch some competition in training camp.
Traditionally, teams wait until the undrafted free agent period to sign punters, but with 12 picks in the draft, the team can afford to use one on a punter so they get their guy.
Not only do the Ravens need a second punter for training camp, but also that punter could challenge Koch for his roster spot for the 2013 season.
According to Russell Street Report’s salary cap chart, Koch’s cap value for the upcoming season is $2,500,000 with a base salary of $1,900,000. That’s a pretty hefty sum for a good – but not great -punter.
If the Ravens can find a punter with the same talent as Koch through the draft, Koch’s job could be in danger as the Ravens continue to save money and clear up cap space for the future.
There likely won’t be any punters drafted before the fifth round, although last year the Jacksonville Jaguars drafted California’s Bryan Anger in the third round.
The most likely scenario for the Ravens, if they indeed decide to draft a punter, would be to use one of their seventh-round picks on one.
This year’s punter class is a rather talented one, headlined by LSU’s Brad Wing, who could be the first punter drafted and will be unavailable for the Ravens in the seventh round.
Some of the late-round options include Louisiana Tech’s Ryan Allen, UCLA’s Jeff Locke and Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp.
Allen would be the most likely candidate, as he won the Ray Guy Award, given to college football’s best punter, in 2011 and 2012. He averaged 48.0 yards per punt as a senior, which was the best average in the country.
Locke isn’t as talented as Allen, but would still be an intriguing option. He averaged 43.3 yards per punt in his senior season and also converted on two-of-three field goals.
Sharp’s stats during his senior season were much better than Locke’s as he average 46.3 yards per punt on 44 attempts, which isn’t far behind Allen’s nation-best average. Sharp’s longest punt went for 74 yards and his career long is 78.
He’s much more versatile than Allen and Locke, as he also made 28-of-34 field goals last season. The Ravens don’t need any competition at the kicker position, but it certainly can’t hurt to have that versatility on the roster.
What could help Allen, Locke and Sharp is that Koch has struggled with the distance on his punts recently. Koch’s longest punt last season was 60 yards, while Sharp’s was 74 yards, Locke’s was 64 yards and Allen’s was a mind-boggling 85 yards.
Finding another punter may not be one of the Ravens’ priorities heading into the draft, however with more than enough picks, one could certainly be used to give Koch some much needed competition.