The Post ranks the top 15 specialists in 2022 NFL Draft

The Post ranks the top 15 specialists in 2022 NFL Draft

The Post’s Ryan Dunleavy gives his top 15 specialists in this year’s NFL draft, based on evaluations and conversations with people around the league:

Kickers

Cade York, LSU, 6-1, 198 pounds

Holds LSU records for 50-plus yard field goals in a game (two), season (six) and career (10). Made a 57-yarder in the final minute to beat Florida in 2020. Converted 54 of 66 career field goals. Not responsible for kickoffs.

Cameron Dicker, Texas, 6-1, 216 pounds

Could a team save a roster spot by using Dicker as kicker and punter? Made 60 of 79 field goals over four years and averaged 46.8 yards per punt as a double-duty senior. More than 200 career touchbacks on kickoffs.

3. Nick Sciba, Wake Forest, 5-9, 194 pounds

Model of consistency holds two significant NCAA records: best career field-goal accuracy (89.9 percent, 80-for-89) and most consecutive conversions (34). Never made a 50-yard field goal but never missed a PAT (193-for-193).

4. Gabe Brkic, Oklahoma, 6-3, 201 pounds

Drilled five 50-yarders last season, including FBS-record-tying three in one game. First walk-off field goal in Oklahoma history. Made 57 of 69 career field goals and 159 of 160 PATs. Needs to generate more power on kickoffs.

Gabe Brkic
AP

5. Jonathan Garibay, Texas Tech, 5-11, 217 pounds

Spent two years at junior college and didn’t win Texas Tech’s job until late in 2020. Went 14-for-14 inside 50 yards and added a pressurized game-tying 62-yarder (third-longest in NCAA since 1988) in 2021. Only kicked off once.

Punters

1. Matt Araiza, San Diego State, 6-2, 200 pounds

Three years as kicker surpassed by one year as punter, when he boomed 18 punts of 60-plus yards, including two over 80. Former soccer player. Elite field-flipper but needs work on finer points, like hang time and coverage angles.

2. Jordan Stout, Penn State, 6-3, 209 pounds

Short-field weapon who dropped 34 of 62 punts last season inside the 20-yard line. Not just a poocher, as a career-long 76-yard showed. Handled field goals and kickoffs, too. Even completed an 18-yard pass on a fake.

3. Jake Camrada, Georgia, 6-2, 180 pounds

Former SEC Special Teams Player of the Year averaged school-record 45.7 yards per punt. Understands ball placement. More than 70 percent of kickoffs were touchbacks last season. Impressed with leg strength at Senior Bowl.

4. Blake Hayes, Illinois, 6-6, 225 pounds

Australian-born five-year letter-winner who punted 68 times last season – 16 of at least 50 yards and 34 inside the 20-yard line with just two touchbacks. Had three career blocked punts. Coffin-corner directional master.

5. Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State, 5-9, 193 pounds

Second-generation punter whose father and two uncles all punted in Pac-12. No. 1 punting recruit in 2017. First punter named First-Team All-Mountain West three times (2018-20). Averaged 47.8 yards over career.

Returners

Marcus Jones, Houston, CB, 5-8, 185 pounds

Likely mid-round pick with dynamic ball skills. Tied NCAA record with nine career kick returns for touchdowns. Also scored touchdowns off interceptions and as a receiver. Averaged 14.4 yards per punt return in 2021.

2. Velus Jones Jr., Tennessee, WR, 5-11, 204 pounds

Only FBS player with 700 receiving yards, 500 kickoff return yards and 200 punt return yards as 2021 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year. Ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash. About to turn 25 years old.

3. Calvin Austin, Memphis, WR, 5-7, 170 pounds

Diminutive former track star who ranked top-three among receivers at NFL combine in 40-yard dash (4.32 seconds), vertical leap (39 inches), broad jump, three-cone drill and 20-yard shuttle. Averaged 11.1 yards per punt return with two scores in 2021.

4. Jerrion Ealy, Mississippi, RB, 5-8, 189 pounds

Two-sport athlete was drafted by MLB’s Diamondbacks. Averaged 25.4 yards per kickoff return with two touchdowns in career. Averaged 5.8 yards per carry and 8.1 yards per reception by picking up chunk plays.

5. Britain Covey, Utah, WR, 5-8, 169 pounds

Five career kick-return touchdowns (four on punts), including three in 2021. Just turned 25, after two-year religious mission and medical redshirt since arriving in 2015. Scouts rave about his vision and explosion through small creases.

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