Most teams will select mere mortals during the 2022 NFL Draft. But the Buffalo Bills instead have gone immortal, choosing “Punt God” to flip the field for them. No punter has come in with more hype in the history of the NFL Draft, and the San Diego native will have all eyes on him heading into a career where he could be asked to revolutionize the position.
There wasn’t a specialist with a bigger leg in all of college football last season, as Araiza served as both kicker and punter for SDSU. His almost limitless power is what forced Twitter alerts on every Aztecs third-and-long, and he rarely disappointed.
The longest punt in the FBS this season, an 86-yarder courtesy of Matt Araiza. pic.twitter.com/IJGFoVNosO— Jon Schaeffer (@jonschaeffer) October 16, 2021
But his ability to accurately place the ball is what is underrated, as Araiza can also pin an opponent inside the five-yard-line with alarming accuracy. Not serving as the starting punter until his junior season in 2021, he showed in just 13 games last season that he may change how the position is executed in the sport.
But if there is one concern, it is increasing his hang time. In the NFL, since linemen can’t move past the line of scrimmage until the ball is kicked, putting the defenders in position with high-arching kicks is part of the job. Instead of just distance, time aloft is needed.
Araiza averaged a preposterous 51.2 yards per boot on 79 punts in 2021 on his way to the Ray Guy Award. He was also 45-45 on PATs and 18-28 on field goals, though he looks to not be a placekicker at the pro level due to injury concerns about the different muscles needed to serve in both roles.