Shrine Bowl director: Jaguars got draft’s ‘best kicker’ in Cam Little

Jacksonville selected three of the record-breaking 57 East-West Shrine Bowl prospects taken in the 2024 NFL draft. One of them was not like the others.

Junior prospects were allowed to play in all-star games like the Shrine and Senior Bowls for the first time earlier this year.

After his strong showing at the former exhibition this February, the Jaguars made Cam Little the youngest kicker ever drafted in NFL history last weekend, selecting the three-year Arkansas starter and Shrine Bowl participant with the No. 212 overall pick in the sixth round.

According to the Shrine Bowl’s director of football operations and player personnel, Eric Galko, the Jaguars landed a steal of a kicker in Little, given he was the third player from his position to be selected.

“We thought he was the best kicker in the draft and we were not alone among NFL teams,” Galko told Jaguars Wire in an interview.

Little’s showing at the Shrine Bowl — a two-of-two day with a long field goal of 48 yards — capped off a strong collegiate career in which he improved as a deep kicker while maintaining short-kick accuracy each year.

Little went 34-of-36 (94.4%) on field goal attempts under 40 yards over three seasons with the Razorbacks and was a perfect 19-of-19 from 29 yards and under, per Pro Football Focus. He went 12-of-17 (70.6%) from 40-to-49 yards in that stretch, peaking at six-of-seven (85.7%) in 2021.

After going one-of-three (33%) from 50+ yards as a freshman, he went six-of-eight (75%) from the same range during his sophomore and junior years. He also never missed an extra-point attempt with Arkansas, making 129.

“Just so efficient. I don’t think he’s ever missed a kick under 40 yards in his college career or extra points. The leg, I’ve seen him make 65-plus yarders. I think he posted a 70-yarder on Twitter a couple weeks ago. Like, this guy has an absolute cannon,” Galko described Little.

“Incredibly accurate under 40 yards, obviously 40-to-50 he’s super accurate too. But like, he’s not going to miss a short kick for [Jacksonville]. He’s been one of the better kickoff kickers in the draft this year and he was one of the best in college football last year, too.”

Beyond the box score, Little’s confidence — even more impressive considering his age: 20 years, eight months and 10 days old on draft day — stood out to Galko throughout the draft process.

Little’s poise reminded Galko of the charisma of two current NFL kickers, Cincinatti’s Evan McPherson and San Francisco’s Jake Moody. The latter was a Shrine Bowl participant a year ago. Galko also sees shades of Moody’s fellow 49er and former Shrine Bowler, quarterback Brock Purdy, in Little.

“[McPherson] told his teammates, like, ‘We’re going to Super Bowl.’ That’s something that Cam would do,” Galko suggested, recalling the moment before McPherson’s game-winning field goal against Tennessee in the 2022 AFC Divisional Round. “That demeanor, that confidence just doesn’t come around very often.

“It borders on, like — arrogance is the wrong word. It’s just like, ‘Yeah, I’m fine.’ You know what I mean? And that’s what Jake Moody had too, that’s what Brock Purdy had. Quarterbacks and kickers share that sometimes, the great ones … that kind of confidence that when things are going wrong, if they do, it’s going to be fine.”

Although his collegiate career-long field goal was 56 yards, Galko believes Little has the leg and confidence required to kick from much further out in the NFL. Considering his youth, Little should only become a stronger and more accurate kicker over time, too.

“I’m very confident the Jaguars will put him out for a kick beyond 60 yards,” Galko predicted, “and I bet if it’s not in, it’s left or right, not middle. He’s got that kind of leg.”

Story originally appeared on Jaguars Wire