The Solution to the Jaguars Punting Woes: Draft Zoltan

Zoltan Mesko that is.

The consensus number one rated punter from Michigan may be worth a late round pick to finally bolster the Jaguars' perennial bottom ranked punting game. The Jaguars punting woes have dated back a few years now starting with Chris Hanson getting released for his poor play. Then came the horrible decision to use a 4th round draft pick on Adam Podlesh, which has obviously disappointed. The team tried to address the situation last season bringing in Steve Weatherford when Podlesh suffered an injury, but Weatherford lost to Podlesh in a training camp battle leading to his eventual release. Well even that looks to have been a mistake as Weatherford did pretty well with the Jets this season while Podlesh had yet another poor season. 

Zoltan Mesko, who was born in Romania, has great size for a punter at 6'5, 231 pounds. His punting average has steadily improved with each year of play culminating in his 44.5 yard average of this season; however, it is the hang time and the accuracy of his kicks that should really open the eyes of NFL scouts. Out of his 52 punts last season, 21 were fair catches and 24 were downed inside the 20 yard line. Compare those 24 downed inside the 20 to only 3 touchbacks. 

The biggest potential problem is that a team may reach for Mesko similar to the way the Jaguars reached for Adam Podlesh. I'm confident that Gene Smith wouldn't be the one to do so, but if another team is willing to use a 4th or 5th rounder on Zoltan it wouldn't be worth it for the Jaguars to pursue him. 

Another potential negative are the occasional line drive kicks that happened in college. While it doesn't raise too many alarms, inconsistencies are something to keep an eye on.

Video Killed the Scouting Report

 

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Zoltan Mesko: By the Numbers

 

Zoltan Mesko

Position 1:  Punter
Height:  6'5
Position 2:  N/A
Weight: 231
Class:  Senior Age:  23
Projected Round: 5th-7th

 40 time:  4.7-4.9

YEAR PUNTS AVG LNG YDS
2006 50 41.6 64 2079
2007 70 41.1 68 2876
2008 80 43.0 63 3436
2009 52 44.5 66 2312

Academic All Big-10 2006-2009

First Team All Big-10 2008-2009

Ray Guy Award Finalist 2009

2nd Team All-American 2009

According to the Experts

CBS Sports

Pros

Has prototypical size and leg extension for the position. Adjusts well to high and low snaps. Good leg strength, but not elite. Solid 1.25-1.35 second get-off time. Solid hangtime, 4.2-4.4 seconds on 45-50 yard punts. Had 3.5 second hangtime on punts placed inside the 20 and throttles down to prevent touchbacks. Gross average benefitted from big rolls when punt returners don't catch the ball because of the left-footed spin. Uses rugby kicks and can wobble his punts avoid top returners.

Cons

Good leg strength, but not elite. Lacks aggressiveness as a tackler on returns. Long steps would put him too close to the line of scrimmage if he used full three-step drop. Will have the occasional line drive. Directional punting ability is a question mark.

Consensus Draft Services

Pros

Big leg. One of the true draftable punters in the country. Gets the ball high and deep consistently, and will consistently post hang times of 4.6-5.1 second. Can kick a FG in an emergency.

Cons

Not a great poor weather punter yet, despite playing in Michigan. Lacks the huge leg that gets people drafted as a punter in the early rounds. Accuracy and coffin-corner work is average.

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