2010 UDFA Profile: Robert Malone, P, Fresno State

Picture via TheJaxBoz

In 2007, the Jaguars made a questionable move by drafting a punter, Adam Podlesh, with their 4th round selection at 101st overall. Although Podlesh hasn't been terrible for Jacksonville, he's certainly been disappointing considering his draft selection. He's finished 21st, 22nd and 15th in net punting average in his three years in the league. He's improved slightly over the years, but unless a lot of improvement has yet to come, Podlesh is only a middle-of-the-pack punter. His average performance doesn't appear to be good enough for Gene Smith and company. The Jaguars didn't choose to address the position in the draft, but they did bring in some competition for Podlesh.

The Jaguars invited Iowa State punter Mike Brandter to camp as a workout player and signed Fresno State punter Robert Malone. Are these players legitimate contenders for the Jaguars punting job, or are they just meant to bring competition and push Podlesh to perform better? 

A tight end and defensive end in high school, Malone has good size for a punter at 6'2, 235 pounds. That's a whole 3 inches and 30 pounds heavier than the incumbent, Podlesh. His 22 bench reps at his pro day are more than the totals put up by all the quarterbacks, running backs and all but one cornerback. So does this upper body strength translate to kicking power? In his senior season he had a kicking average of 45.1 yards per punt which would've ranked him at 10th in the NFL in 2009. Adam Podlesh's 41.9 yard kicking average ranked 29th in the NFL.

In his 3 years in the NFL, Podlesh has managed to avoid having his punts blocked and with Malone you'll likely get the same. He has an efficient catch and two-step kick motion that helped him to have only one punt blocked in his career at Fresno State. 

The biggest knock on Malone is his tendency to out-kick his coverage with low kicks that travel 50+ yards. In his last 2 seasons at Fresno State he forced only 13 fair catches which is equal to the total Podlesh had in 2009 alone. He managed to improve on the area in his senior year, but it still remains a concern. His improvement is something worth noting, though. In 2006, he had an average of 37.2 yards. In 2007, he had only two punts averaging 36 yards before having a season ending injury. In 2008, he had an average of 42.8. Finally in his senior season he had an average of 45.1. It sounds to me like Malone could develop into a legitimate NFL punter with a leg that could be top 10 in the league. 

Video Killed the Scouting Report

Yahoo! Highlights

Robert Malone: By the Numbers

 

Robert Malone
Position 1:  Punter
Height:  6'2
Position 2:  Holder
Weight: 235
Class:  Senior Age:  22
Bench Reps: 22

 40 Time:  4.84

 

2009 1st Team All-WAC

2009, 2008 Academic All-WAC

2009 2nd Team Academic All-American

Stats Overview Punting
YEAR PUNTS AVG LNG YDS TB TB% IN20 IN20% RET YDS AVG NET
2006 20 37.2 53 744 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 0.0 37.2
2007 2 36.0 45 72 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 0.0 36.0
2008 54 42.8 74 2311 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 0.0 42.8
2009 43 45.1 69 1941 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0 0.0 45.1

According to the Experts:

CBS Sports

An intriguing prospect with good size, athleticism, leg-strength and a penchant for making some of his most impressive kicks in critical situations, Malone is a rising name on scouts' lists. Recruited for his general athletic ability, Malone played tight end and defensive end in high school in addition to being the team's punter.

He battled injury and inconsistency his first two years with the program, but emerged as one of the WAC's best young punters in 2008, averaging 42.8 yards per punt and placing 20 kicks inside his opponents' 20-yard line (against only five touchbacks).

Malone worked on his leg strength during the offseason and it showed. He improved his average distance to 45.9 yards, which would have ranked second in the entire country had he been eligible. Because Malone, Fresno's only punter of record in 2009, only averaged 3.4 punts per game for the season, rather than the NCAA-required 3.6, he did not earn the national acclaim of some of his peers. WAC coaches still voted him to the all-conference team and he was invited to the NFL Scouting Combine.

Pros

Two-step, right-footed punter. Catches ball quickly, showing good lateral agility and jumping ability to handle the poor snap, and gets the kick off efficiently. Has had only one blocked during his career. Good explosion off his foot. Can drive the ball deep to help his team win the field position battle. Has a long of 74 yards for his career and 27 punts of 50-plus yards over the past two seasons. Good size and relative athletic ability to provide a last line of defense against punt returns. Willing to compete; has three tackles over his past two seasons. Reliable holder for PATs and field goals.

Cons

Ball height remains a concern, although he improved in this area as a senior. Out-kicks coverage too often. Only forced 13 fair catches over the past two seasons.

NFL.com

Pros

Malone is a mechanically sound punter who strikes the ball solidly and sometimes booms one. Athletic enough to adjust to errant snaps and gets the ball off quickly. Great directional kicker who consistently backs opponents inside the 20-yard line.

Cons

Does not consistently drive the ball deep. Lacks the hang time on his punts to give the coverage team the necessary time to get into position. Has little experience as a place kicker and lacks the leg strength to kick off.

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