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Gosselin: NFL door open for kick returners

Discussion in 'Draft Zone' started by HardHittingRoy31, Apr 11, 2007.

  1. HardHittingRoy31

    HardHittingRoy31 New Member

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    I've highlighted some of the amazing punt returners we can find in this year's draft by not using a first round pick on Ted Ginn Jr. Thank you, Rick Gosselin for the numbers.Quality late rounders: Steve Breaston, Ryne Robinson,Yamon Figurs, Jacoby Jones, Selvin Young

    NFL door open for kick returners

    Hester's impact as rookie benefits players in 2007 draft
    02:36 PM CDT on Tuesday, April 10, 2007

    By RICK GOSSELIN / The Dallas Morning News
    rgosselin@dallasnews.com

    The Chicago Bears won their NFC championship in the second round of the 2006 NFL draft.

    That's where Chicago, with the 57th overall pick, selected a player without a true position. The Bears weren't sure if Devin Hester would be a cornerback or a wide receiver in the NFL, but they were certain he could return kicks.

    His ability on special teams, generally a forgotten phase of football on draft day, powered the Bears to an NFC-best 13-3 record. Hester scored an NFL-record six touchdowns on a variety of kick returns.

    Hester returned three punts for touchdowns, including an 83-yarder in the closing minutes of a 24-23 victory at Arizona. He also returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and ran back an errant New York Giants field goal try an NFL-record-tying 108 yards for a sixth score.

    "He showed special teams to be very important to football," said Michigan wide receiver Steve Breaston. "You can make big plays there. You can't take special teams lightly. They can help you win ball games."

    Breaston figures to be one of the players who benefits from Hester's showing in 2006.

    The NFL is a copycat league, so teams will spend more time studying the elite kick returners in the 2007 draft in an attempt to find difference-makers of their own.

    Breaston will be among the most scrutinized. So will Ted Ginn Jr. of Ohio State, Aaron Ross of Texas, Yamon Figurs of Kansas State and Jacoby Jones of Lane. All could go higher on draft day because of the Hester factor.

    "I'm a big fan of Hester," Ginn said. "I watched him through college. He helps me out a lot. If he can do it, I believe I can. I'm not trying to be cocky, but we do have the same ability and the same type speed. If he can go out and do it, I can do it, too."

    Hester added a seventh touchdown in the Super Bowl when he ran back the opening kickoff 92 yards against the Indianapolis Colts. Ginn had a similar moment in college football's national championship game when he ran back the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown against Florida.

    Like Hester, Ginn can return punts and kickoffs. He led the NCAA in punt returns (25.6 yards) as a freshman and kickoff returns (29.6 yards) as a sophomore. Ginn set a Big Ten record with six career punt returns for touchdowns and also scored twice on kickoffs.

    Breaston set Big Ten records for career punt returns (127) and yardage (1,599). He scored four times on punts and a fifth time on a kickoff. Miami of Ohio's Ryne Robinson returned seven career punts for touchdowns, one short of the NCAA record. He averaged 13.8 yards on 121 career returns.

    Figurs got everyone's attention at the NFL scouting combine with his 4.26-second speed in the 40. He jumped out at NFL talent evaluators on his game tape, as well, with his career averages of 23.7 yards on kickoffs and 11.5 yards on punts. He was the All-Big 12 kick return specialist in 2006.

    Jacoby Jones returned four career kickoffs for touchdowns at the NCAA Division II level and scored a fifth touchdown on a punt. Texas' Ross and Selvin Young also should benefit this month from the Hester factor.
    "Hester brought back the importance of the kick," Young said. "A lot of teams settle for what they can get on a return. Now guys are looking to take it to the house. I have a few of those on my record – a couple of punts and kicks in the same game, in fact. I'd like to do some of that at the next level."


    Young returned a kickoff 97 yards and a punt 39 yards for touchdowns against New Mexico in 2003. He also ran a punt back for a touchdown against Tulane in 2002. Ross scored three times on punts and averaged 11.3 yards on 76 career returns.

    "Those [returns] are something that can get the crowd, the fans and everyone on their feet," Ross said.

    They can also help win championships.
  2. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    Skyler Green wasn't the right one, so the Cowboys need to go to the well again.

    They need to find that high quality punt returner who isn't T Newman.

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  3. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    Once Miles Austin started returning kicks it looked like he was about to bust one for a TD nearly every time he touched the ball. Finally he did in the playoff game. I wouldn't waste a pick on a return guy with Thompson returning and Austin on the team.
  4. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    It is only a "waste" if another Green is picked.

    Thompson isn't a lock for this roster. As punt returners, Crayton is underwhelming and Newman is a risk.

    Wade remembers this guy:


    [IMG]
  5. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    Or it's a waste if you spend a pick on a guy that doesn't add much value over what you already have instead of picking someone else that could add much more. For example, spending a 3rd on a KR rather than an OT to groom Flo's replacement or an OG to eventually take over for Kosier or Davis if he doens't work out. Or a guy like Zak DeOssie who could turn into a force at OLB.

    You always have to look at the opportunity cost.
  6. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    I watched him all thru college. He is crazy fast and can play WR also. Ask Texas.
  7. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    Of course. But also - consider the cost of not addressing the issue.

    Is it better to risk Newman on punt returns and use a 4th or 5th round pick for an OL or LB prospect (and hope they play better than their draft status)?

    - or -

    Do you pick a guy who can 1. replace an ineffective Crayton and 2. protect a guy who you can't afford to lose (Newman)?

    Intelligent people can disagree on which of the two is best.

    Jerry picked the second alternative last year. I hope he does it again this year (and with more success).
  8. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    I don't mind, as long as it isn't with a pick before the 5th round.
  9. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    I haven't looked at many mock draft boards, but I noticed that Fox Sports had Figurs being drafted in the 5th round. That's later than I'd expect, especially given what Hester meant to the Bears, but who knows?
  10. big dog cowboy

    big dog cowboy THE BIG DOG Staff Member

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    That is probably about right for him. A team could do much worse than spend a 5th on him. The excitement when he goes back for a punt return reminds me of Deion. He could take any kick all the way.
  11. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    And that's why I'd expect him to go earlier.

    I just gotta believe that some team is going to place a premium on his speed and pick Figurs earlier than most would expect. Sort of like what happened with Hester last year.
  12. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    The difference between Hester and Figurs is that Hester had about 3-4 first day WRs ahead of him in the draft, but Figurs has about 15 first day WRs ahead of him.
  13. Aikbach

    Aikbach Well-Known Member

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    Definitely true, with the exception of drafting Ginn as a wideout and returner there doesn't seem to be a priority need for a specialist with speedsters like Thompson and Austin on the roster.
  14. ZeroClub

    ZeroClub just trying to get better

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    Sure there is a small crowd of WRs in front of Figurs. Of course, as far as raw speed goes, there aren't any ahead of him (maybe Ginn, when he heals).

    As I see it, Figurs has a key benefit that Hester didn't have.

    Figurs is being drafted in the aftermath of Hester's spectacular rookie year.

    The NFL is a copycat league. That league saw what Hester, with his raw speed, was able to do. Some team is going to gamble that Figurs is the next Hester.

    I'm not saying that I expect Figurs to be drafted in the 2nd round. Or even the third.

    Would I be shocked if he were drafted in the 3rd round or mildly surprised if he went in the 4th? No.
  15. theogt

    theogt Surrealist Zone Supporter

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    I don't think KR is about top-end speed. Rarely does a KR get up to his top-end speed until he's already past the coverage, and by that point it doesn't really matter how fast he is, because he's got a clear shot to the endzone. I think broad jump, 10 and 20 yard splits, as well as cone and shuttle are very important for KRs, and in those regardds Figurs is very average. It's really only his 40 time that is impressive. Though Figurs may have the intangibles that Hester has to become a good KR.

    I'm very skeptical about KRs, though. Hester may have been a one-year wonder, just like Dante Hall. I wouldn't spend a 3rd on a Dante Hall. Now if I could get that production year-in and year-out, that's a different story, but it remains to be seen whether Hester can even do it. And we know that Hall couldn't.

    That's true. Never underestimate the idiots that occupy NFL front offices.

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