Hey everyone, I'm one of the lead bloggers of at Pats Pulpit, the Patriots blog on SB Nation. I'm interested in all things football and I wanted to share a piece with you because I thought you would be very interested. CaliforniaJag does a great job analyzing very similar numbers, but he comes to a different conclusion. I believe that the selection of Bryan Anger is very defensible. Here's a post I made with former Denver Broncos GM Ted Sundquist, analyzing the selection.
Plenty of Jaguars fans were upset or, at the very least, confused when the front office selected punter Bryan Anger in the third round. Punters are rarely drafted and are definitely questionable selections in the middle rounds. There were other draftable players available who could have helped the team. My argument: Anger helps the team more than any of those other players could have.
Anger is expected to be one of the best punters in the league. CaliforniaJag points out that there's little correlation between draft position and on-field success, which is true for the punting position. However, when teams feel like a special teams player is worth drafting that early, they've rarely been disappointed. The first kicker/punter off the board has generally seen plenty of success. Of the five kicker/punters drafted in the first three rounds since 2000 (Sebastian Janikowski, Nate Kaeding, B.J. Sander, Dustin Colquitt, Mike Nugent), only Sander has been an outright failure and Nugent has been middling- and the other three have been near the best in the league. Just in general, the success rate of the top drafted special teams players is just as good, if not better than, other positions in the draft.
Anger blew away scouts with his workouts and his directional punting is some of the best ever seen. While Brian Burke comes to slightly different expected points than CaliforniaJag, the point still stands: punters can save yards and it can noted by around 1 point/game. The Jaguars were at the bottom of the league in both punting yards and net yards and adding a top 10 punter would save the Jaguars around 3-5 yards per punt (whether you're looking at net or raw numbers).
In addition, it's important to distinguish that the Jaguars are punting the ball more than average. While the Jaguars defense is criminally underrated, the offense sits at the bottom of the league. As a result, the Jaguars punted over 6 times a game last season- a number that will remain high as long as Blaine Gabbert and co. continue to develop. Looking at the yards saved per punt and the total number of punts, Anger could save between 1-1.5 points a game, just with extending the punting distance.
It doesn't stop there, though. The Jaguars were last in the league with 10 touchbacks. Anger's strength is directional punting. By converting just half of those touchbacks into in-the-20 punts, Anger is saving the team an additional 5 expected points over the course of the season. In total, looking at the Jaguars above average expected punting rate, Anger's contribution on punt distance and his directional punting ability, Anger's added value to the Jaguars is between 20-30 points over the course of the season. Looking at the higher end of that projection, Anger is saving the Jaguars defense around 9% of their expected points. That's a big difference and would bring the Jaguars into a top 5 points against defense in the league.
Of course, these are all just expectations. Anger has to reach the top 10 punters in the league. He has to reduce the touchback count. He has to punt an above-average number of times over the course of the season. In fact, his expected value will reduce when the offense starts to improve. Still, looking at just expectations, Anger should save the Jaguars a minimum of 20 expected points over the course of the season. If Anger just produces at his college level, he'll still improve the Jaguars by an expected 10 points/season.
If Anger blew the scouts away- and that's the scouts job to put the team in the best position to evaluate a player- they are expecting that he reaches the 20-30 expected points of improvement. That's all the pick can be evaluated upon. If the scouts believe that Anger is one of the best at his position, how would having the best at the position benefit the team? Anger improves field position, reduces points against, and provides the Jaguars insurance if the offense cannot produce. If Anger reaches the level the scouting team expects, then he is a fantastic selection, even in the third round.
(side note 2: If anything, be upset that the FO didn't try to trade down or move around before taking Anger. Selecting the best punter in the draft makes a ton of sense for the Jaguars.)
Hope you enjoyed!