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Jaguars' eyes on Cal punter


The Jaguars are expected to draft a punter, but the punter everybody likes in this NFL draft may require a selection higher than the Jaguars would like to spend.

California's Nick Harris is probably the best punter prospect to come into the draft since Brad Maynard was selected by the Giants in the third round in 1997. And that's what it may take to secure Harris; a third-round pick.

The Jaguars have two third-round selections this Saturday, but they'd rather use both of those on positions of more critical need, such as offensive and defensive linemen, or a linebacker and a fullback. Punter? Well, Harris may be too good to pass up.

Harris averaged 41.5 yards per punt last season for Cal. Most importantly, Harris killed 36 of his 73 punts inside the 20-yard line. Fourteen were fair-caught and only four went into the end zone.

At 6-2, 215, Harris is a kicker of extraordinary skills. He has a strong leg and the ability to be a finesse punter when necessary. In today's NFL, finesse punting may be more important than leg strength.

The next punter down is Wisconsin's Kevin Stemke, a possible late-rounds pick. The left-footer averaged 44.8 yards per punt with a nation's-best 42.9-yard net. He dropped 21 punts inside the 20. It's important to note that Stemke is accustomed to punting in cold weather.

Tennessee's David Leaverton will catch on somewhere. He is the only other punter with the potential to be drafted.

The kicking crop is especially weak this year. South Florida's Bill Gramatica is the only kicker who carries a draftable grade, though he'll probably be signed as an undrafted free agent.

Vic Ketchman is the Senior Editor of Jaguars Inside Report, the official team newspaper of the Jacksonville Jaguars. One-year subscriptions may be purchased by calling 1-888-846-5247.

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