Bryan Anger became the first punter in 17 years to be taken in the first 75 picks of the NFL draft when he was selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday night.
The Cal punter was taken at No. 70. It was the highest a punter has gone since 1995 when the Chicago Bears took Todd Sauerbrun with the 54th pick.
Jacksonville became an instant laughingstock for going with a punter in the third round.
"Too often the Jacksonville Jaguars are a punching bag or a punch line," wrote ESPN's Paul Kuharsky. "This time, they deserve it."
Do they? Here's the list of Jacksonville Jaguars third-round picks throughout history: Will Rackley (2011), D'Anthony Smith (2010), Terrance Knighton (2009), Derek Cox (2009), Mike Walker (2007), Clint Ingram (2006), Scott Starks (2005), Jorge Cordova (2004), Vince Manuwai (2003), Akin Ayodele (2002), Eric Westmoreland (2001), James Boyd (2001), T.J. Slaughter (2000), Anthony Cesario (1999), Jonathan Quinn (1998), James Hamilton (1997), Aaron Beasley (1996), Chris Hudson (1995).
Of the 18 names on that list, four had long NFL careers as starters. At least five were out of the league within three years. We'll withhold judgment on the two most recent picks, but they started a majority of the team's (5-11) games last year.
Kuharsky and others have made the point that offenses and defenses tend to run about 1,000 plays each during the season. A team like the Jaguars may punt 100 times. Ergo, a punter isn't as important as an offensive or defensive player.
That's completely true. But theories like that only hold if the offensive or defensive player is effective. As the list above demonstrates, getting an effective player in the middle of a draft is something of a crapshoot. You can't say "taking a punter" is stupid and assume that the pick would have been used on an longtime NFL starter like Akin Ayodele. It's more likely used on a guy who flamed out early, like Jorge Cordova.
The 1000/1000/100 stat does what: shows the kicking game is meaningless? I'm sure Tom Brady and Bill Belichick would agree with that. Adam Vinatieri only kicked 40 field goals per season, so he wasn't an important part of those Super Bowl winning teams.
Of course, there's no guarantee Anger is a great specialist. The last punter to go so highmade three All-Pro teams. But the last kicker to go before the third round -- Mike Nugent -- is having a middling kicking career and is on his fourth team in five seasons.