Teams often overlook the third phase of the game leading up to the NFL draft, but a number of players are drafted every year for their ability to stand out on special teams.
A total of 12 kickers and 10 punters have been selected in the last five NFL drafts. Other players have been selected specifically because of their ability to return kicks or punts, contribute on kickoff- and punt-coverage teams or long snap the ball.
Returners and role players typically emerge from the pool of players who are already considered draftable for their skills at another position, but some clearly defined special teams standouts display enough excellence in that capacity to warrant a draft selection.
Any team that is looking to come away from this year’s draft with a new punter, kicker and/or return specialist should have some of the following players on its radar.