The NFL draft class of 2022 might be notable simply for making some fans argue about punters.
The drama revolved around one Matt Araiza, the San Diego State punter who became a viral legend in college thanks to his ability to produce punts nearly the length of the football field. He won the 2021 Ray Guy Award for college football's top punter after averaging a record 51.2 yards per punt and it seemed a foregone conclusion he'd be the first punter drafted.
And then the Baltimore Ravens drafted Penn State's Jordan Stout. And then the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted Georgia's Jake Camarda. Araiza was expected to hear his name called sometime during Day 2 of the draft, but he ended up having to wait until the sixth round for the Buffalo Bills to draft him. He wasn't exactly thrilled with the experience.
Fast forward four months and Araiza took the field in a Bills uniform for the first time and promptly did exactly what he did in college: unleashing 80-plus-yard punts. An 82-yard bomb, specifically.
His first punt:
Matt Araiza GOT ALL OF THIS KICK 🚀
He sent this punt 82 yards 🤯 pic.twitter.com/63KsCOZScx
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) August 13, 2022
It's not often you see legitimate punting highlights not involving a return, but that's the kind of magic Araiza already stands to bring into the league.
Of course, Araiza didn't fall in the draft because NFL teams didn't believe he could punt it 80 yards. At least two teams liked other punters more for the aspects of kicking that go beyond distance. The Ravens, who obviously know a thing or two about special teams, likely chose Stout because he had far better numbers than Araiza when it came to landing the ball behind the 20-yard line, avoiding touchbacks and keeping the ball in the air longer.
Maybe Araiza's leg is big enough to make that not matter, though it's hard to ignore the returner would have had at least 20 yards of real estate ahead of him had he managed to catch it (Araiza at least deserves credit for kicking it beyond expectations).
And yet, try and hear the words "82-yard punt" and not think the risk might end up being worth it.