B/R NFL Draft 400: Top Specialists for 2015

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 21, 2015

B/R NFL Draft 400: Top Specialists for 2015

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    RICK BOWMER/Associated Press

    Each spring, 256 players are drafted into the NFL, with roughly another 100 added as undrafted free agents. With close to 350 players joining the pros each year, it's tough to keep track of them. 

    Everyone knows who Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota and Amari Cooper are. But what about the rest of the class? At Bleacher Report, our aim is to thoroughly cover the draft unlike any other outlet, so we're not stopping with coverage of the top 32 picks or even the top 200 picks. We're covering the top 400 draft-eligible players, with a full scouting report on each one. 

    The top 400 players have been tracked, scouted, graded and ranked by myself and my scouting assistants, Marshal Miller and Dan Bazal. Together, we have viewed a minimum of three games per player (the same standard NFL teams use), and oftentimes we've seen every play from a player over the last two years. That's led to the grades, rankings and scouting reports you see here.

    Players are graded on strengths and weaknesses, with a pro-player comparison added that matches the player's style or fit in the pros. Position by position, the top 400 players are broken down for easy viewing before the final release of a top-400 big board prior to the draft.

    In the case of a tie, players were ranked based on their overall grade.

The Grading Scale

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    At the end of each scouting report, you'll see a final grade that falls somewhere between 4.00 and 9.00 on a unique grading scale. This scale comes from the teaching I received from Charley Casserly, Michael Lombardi and other former and current front-office personnel in the NFL. I've tweaked it this year to be more transparent, and the result is each player receiving a number grade as well as his ranking.

    This applies to all positions.

    Matt Miller Draft Grading Scale
    GradeLabel
    9.00Elite, No. 1 pick
    8.00-8.99 All-Pro Potential 
    7.50-7.99Pro Bowl Potential 
    7.00-7.49Top-15-Player Potential 
    6.50-6.99Rookie Impact/Future Starter 
    6.00-6.49Rookie Impact/Future Starter
    5.50-5.99Future Starter
    5.10-5.49Quality Backup
    5.01-5.09Backup Caliber
    5.00Draftable Player Cutoff
    4.75-4.99Priority Free Agent
    4.50-4.74Camp Player
    4.00-4.49Not NFL Caliber

6. Wil Baumann, P, N.C. State

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    Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press
    Height  Weight  40      Vertical3-Cone  
     6'6" 187 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    Wil Baumann has a booming leg and backed it up with an impressive 45.5-yard average on punts in 2014—up from a 42.1 average in 2013 and 38.9 in 2012. Baumann is improving as he gains strength, and his lanky 6'6", 187-pound frame can get stronger to provide more power. He's accurate directionally and on punts inside the 10-yard line. Baumann is in the elite category with a two-second snap-to-punt time.

    WEAKNESSES

    Baumann's height and length can be an issue for potential blocked punts, as his leg is extended closer to the line of scrimmage than normal. It's a minor point, but one to consider. That lanky body makes Baumann a weak link if asked to tackle.

    2014 STATISTICS

     Punts     Punt Avg Yards     
     60 45.4 2,724

    FINAL GRADE: 4.75/9.00 (Priority Free Agent)

5. Justin Manton, K, Louisiana-Monroe

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    Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
    Height  Weight  40      Vertical3-Cone  
     6'3" 196 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    Justin Manton is a versatile player with accuracy as a kicker and a strong leg as a punter. Manton averaged 42.4 yards per punt and 59.9 yards per kickoff, and he hit 83.3 percent of his field-goal attempts in 2014. A team looking to save a roster spot may find his versatility appealing, given that he can handle every kicking job in a game. Manton's best fit is as a place-kicker and kickoff specialist, where he has shown upside as a touchback kicker.

    WEAKNESSES

    Hang time from Manton as a punter isn't ideal (3.4 seconds, per Lance Zierlein of NFL.com), and his snap-to-punt time routinely hit 2.5 seconds. His slower approach to kicking is maddening at times and will lead to blocked kicks and punts against NFL speed. Manton will get a look thanks to his versatility, but he's a jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none type of player.

    2014 STATISTICS

     FG Att  FG Made FG%   
     24 20 83.3

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

4. Spencer Roth, P, Baylor

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press
    Height  Weight  40      Vertical3-Cone  
     6'4" 227 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    A four-year star in the Big 12, Spencer Roth has NFL skills as a punter. Roth has excellent size (6'4", 227 lbs) and averaged 43.7 yards per punt for his career. He nailed nine punts of over 60 yards during that time and an incredible 41 punts over 50 yards. Roth is consistent with his hang time and had only one punt blocked in four years. His accuracy and ability to keep the ball in play are worth praising. He won't often put the ball into the end zone for touchbacks and makes the job easy on his punt team.

    WEAKNESSES

    Roth has a good leg but isn't in the upper echelon for punter power. His process from snap to punt can be a little slow. You ideally want the ball kicked around two seconds, and Roth can get into the 2.2-to-2.3 range too often. That may sound trivial, but it makes a difference against NFL speed. Roth's average hang time (3.9 seconds, per Zierlein) could be improved.

    2014 STATISTICS

     Punts    Punt Avg Yards    
     47 43.4 2,040

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

3. Kyle Loomis, P, Portland State

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    Dean Hare/Associated Press
    Height  Weight  40       Vertical3-Cone  
     6'2" 221 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    Kyle Loomis started his career at Oregon State way back in 2006. He left the school, joined the Army and served until 2011. Loomis landed at Portland State in 2013, and now he's headed to the NFL. He has an NFL leg and has a great chance to hear his name called on Day 3 of the draft. Loomis was a first-team All-American in 2013 and 2014 (The Associated Press, Walter Camp and AFCA) and named the FCS ADA Punter of the Year. He leaves college as a highly decorated performer.

    Loomis bombs his punts, averaging 46.2 yards in 2013 and 2014. He shows great hang time and is a very good directional punter, with the ability to pin the ball deep inside the 20-yard line or in either corner. Loomis shows both power and consistency as a punter.

    WEAKNESSES

    Loomis turns 28 in the first month of his rookie season, something that could give teams pause. The biggest issue with Loomis on the field is that his punts sometimes outkick their coverage, and two were returned for touchdowns. That may not be a problem with better NFL coverage, but it's on the film.

    2014 STATISTICS

     Punts    Punt Avg Yards   
     75 46.0 3,450

    FINAL GRADE: 5.00/9.00 (Backup)

2. Josh Lambo, K, Texas A&M

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    Beth Hall/Associated Press
    Height   Weight   40       Vertical3-Cone  
     6'0" 216 lbs - - -

    STRENGTHS

    A former soccer player drafted No. 8 overall in the 2008 MLS draft, Josh Lambo took a longer route to the NFL draft. Lambo's football experience is limited, but he's a highly accurate kicker, connecting on 13 of 15 attempts in 2014 and hitting all 59 extra-point attempts. He's shown good range with a long of 50 yards and has hit on five of seven beyond 40 yards in his two years at A&M.

    WEAKNESSES

    It's not as much a concern for a kicker, but Lambo will turn 25 years old during his rookie season. The big red flag is a lack of experience and attempts—he kicked just 25 field goals at A&M—and the lack of kickoff experience. The traits are there, but Lambo is like a spread quarterback in that he's not been asked to do NFL-style things because of the high-scoring A&M offense. You won't find clutch kicks or difficult weather kicks on his film. He's all upside at this point.

    2014 STATISTICS

     FG Att FG Made FG%
     15 13 86.7

    FINAL GRADE: 5.09/9.00 (Backup)

1. Joe Cardona, LS, Navy

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press
    Height     Weight       40          Vertical    Bench Press
     6'2" 242 lbs 4.91s 33.0" 30 reps

    STRENGTHS

    True long snappers aren't often drafted—just three have been in NFL history—but Joe Cardona has a legitimate shot at it. He's a highly accurate player with good velocity on his snaps. Scouts at his workout clocked his snaps at over 40 mph, with anything over 35 mph considered to be very good. Cardona is consistent, accurate and fast as a snapper. He's capable of handling all long snapping (punts and field goals) and is the type of high-character player worth spending a draft pick on.

    WEAKNESSES

    Coming from Navy, Cardona's eligibility is a question mark. Like all service academy players, he’s still committed to the military. Cardona's situation is a five-year Navy commitment unless he gets what is called a "special dispensation" to play immediately. He's undersized and doesn't give you much as a downfield tackler, but the size issue isn't as great now that most NFL teams carry long snappers as individual positions. The big question is blocking, since college long snappers aren't asked to block. NFL rules mean a transition for college snappers.

    FINAL GRADE: 5.15/9.00 (Quality Backup)