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2013 Draft Preview: Special Teams

Posted Apr 19, 2013

As we go down the Road to the Draft, Driven By Liberty Ford, here’s a look at the special teams players in the 2013 NFL Draft class.

With the 2013 NFL Draft fast approaching on April 25, ClevelandBrowns.com will take a deeper look at the prospects, position-by-position. Today’s spotlight is on the special teamers.

Overview:

Four of the top five punters and four of the most productive kickers in the NCAA were seniors in 2012, and several have spent the past four months preparing for the 2013 NFL Draft.

Key Players:

*Punters: Ryan Allen (Louisiana Tech), Josh Hubner (Arizona State), Pete Kontodiakos (Colorado State) and Alex Dunnachie (Hawaii); kickers: Quinn Sharp (Oklahoma State), Steven Schott (Ball State), Caleb Sturgis (Florida) and Dustin Hopkins (Florida State); returners: Quincy McDuffie (Central Florida) and Tyrann Mathieu (Louisiana State).

Allen started at Oregon State, but after not playing for two years, put in a transfer request and decided to continue his football career at Louisiana Tech, where he became the first punter ever to win back-to-back Ray Guy Awards.

In 2012, Allen earned consensus All-American status when he accounted for 2,162 yards on 45 punts, an average of 48.0 per kick, had 20 land inside his opponents’ 20-yard line, and had punts at or above 50 yards 21 times, including an 85-yarder in a 28-14 win at New Mexico State on Oct. 27, 2012.

“I’m very versatile in who I am as a punter,” Allen said. “I know my leg swing. I’m very good into the wind just because I hold onto the ball. I always preach directional, and if I need to put more emphasis on hang time and less on distance, I’m able to do it. I have confidence in every aspect of my game.”

Hubner punted 52 times for Arizona State and averaged 47.13 yards on those kicks. He totaled 2,451 yards and averaged four punts over the Sun Devils’ 13 games last fall.

Kontodiakos punted nearly five times per game for the Rams last season, but finished third in the nation with an average of 46.47 yards over 59 punts. His kicks traveled 2,742 yards in 2012.

Dunnachie punted 49 times in 2012 and averaged 46.16 yards per kick during his senior season. Over his career, Dunnachie launched 199 punts for 8,364 yards and averaged 42.0 yards per punt.

Sharp earned AFCA and Walter Camp All-America status in 2012 after converting 28 of 34 field-goal attempts (82.4 percent), including a long attempt of 51 yards. He was a perfect 71 of 71 on extra-point tries, and doubled as a punter who averaged 46.3 yards over 44 kicks last season.

Schott made 25 of 32 field-goal attempts (78.1 percent) in 13 games for the Cardinals this past season. The Massillon, Ohio, native converted 50 of 51 extra-point tries and averaged 1.92 field goals per game.

Sturgis converted at least 22 field goals in three of his seasons at Florida. He made 24 of 28 attempts (85.7 percent), and had the highest percentage among the top five kickers in the NCAA last fall.

Hopkins converted 25 of his 30 field-goal attempts (83.3 percent) during his final season with the Seminoles last fall. He made at least 22 field goals in each of his last three seasons and converted 88 in his career. Hopkins kicked 202 career extra-point tries and scored 466 points.

Originally a wide receiver, McDuffie doubled as a kick returner for the Knights. He returned 17 kickoffs, gained 582 yards and had three return touchdowns last fall. He averaged 34.24 yards on those 17 kickoffs.

Before being dismissed from LSU prior to the 2012 regular season, Mathieu was a Heisman Trophy finalist who was known for his skills as a cornerback and dynamic punt returner. During the 2011 season, Mathieu returned 27 punts for 421 yards and two touchdowns, including a long score of 92 yards.

Mathieu said he attended the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine with the intention trying to help build a trust with NFL teams after going through rehabilitation for marijuana usage.

“All the things I put before football are really not fun anymore without football,” Mathieu said. “Once I get football back in my life, I want to approach football a little bit differently, and hopefully, have a better outcome. My best friend right now is honesty. I want to be as open as possible because I’m trying to rebuild my trust. I want those guys to be able to trust me. I hold myself accountable.

“I know what it’s like not to have football. I know what it’s like not to be in the front of the room, not to be the center of attention, and I know what it’s like to be humiliated. To go back down that road, not a chance in this world, not a chance in my lifetime.”

*ClevelandBrowns.com utilized the NCAA’s statistics for the 2012 season.

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