Whole Nine Sports

Special Teams in the 2020 NFL Draft

Joe Reed
Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics
Tyler Habursky
Follow Tyler @TylerHabursky
Follow Whole Nine Sports @WholeNineSports

In the past week, I’ve had plenty of time to put some work in on the NFL Draft and scouting. My mind wandered far enough and thought: “Who are the best special teams players in this class?” With a lot more time on my hands I was able to do my research on the best special teams players in the class. That includes kickers, punters, long snappers, other special teams players, and even fullbacks. Come day 3 of the draft, a lot of the guys taken have a clear role on special teams. This was a great exercise to become more familiar with some of the smaller school, lesser known prospects in the draft. Without further ado, let’s get into the best special teams players in this class.

Kickers

Tyler Bass
Photo by Frank Fortune, Georgia Southern Athletics

Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern: Tyler Bass is the best kicker in the class. After an impressive collegiate career, Bass earned himself an invite to the Reese’s Senior Bowl and is firmly on the radar of scouts. Where kickers get drafted varies from year to year, but Bass will most definitely hear his name called at some point before the draft is over.

Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia: Rodrigo Blankenship was probably the most popular kicker in the country for the last few years. His rec spec goggles and clutch kicks really put him on the map for scouts and fans. If he doesn’t get drafted in the later rounds, he won’t have to wait long to be picked up as a UDFA and instantly become a fan favorite for whichever team he lands on.

JJ Molson, UCLA

Cooper Rothe, Wyoming

Ricky Aguayo, Florida State: Brother of Ricky. I don’t expect this Aguayo to go in the second round, but hey I guess we’ll see.

Punters

Michael Turk
Photo by Kevin Abele, Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Braden Mann, Texas A&M: As the top punter in this class, Braden Mann will hope some team uses the same draft capital on him as the 49ers used on Mitch Wishnowsky. The 4th round is probably a bit ambitious for him, but he will likely be the first specialist taken.

Michael Turk, Arizona State: No, Michael Turk is not just a workout warrior after putting up unbelievable bench numbers up at the combine. He’s also a pretty solid punter. He is related to Matt Turk, former NFL punter, and the league seems to really like players with NFL bloodlines.

Joseph Charlton, South Carolina

Sterling Hofrichter, Syracuse

Tommy Townsend, Florida: The Townsend brothers both came through Florida and made their mark at the punter position. Townsend may not be the best punter in the class, but is fairly athletic. The fact that his brother Johnny also has experience may be enough to get him picked up as a UDFA.

Alex Pechin, Bucknell

Cody Grace, Arkansas State

Corliss Waitman, South Alabama

Blake Gillikin, Penn State

Arryn Siposs, Auburn

Long Snappers

Steve Wirtel
Photo by Wesley Winterink, Iowa State Athletics

Steve Wirtel, Iowa State: Friend of the site Steve Wirtel is the best long snapper in this class. He’s gained some attention after a Senior Bowl invite and the fastest 40 ever at the combine by a long snapper. You can also add his win in the Whole Nine Sports Cup Pong tournament to his resume. Wirtel could impact the draft as a late round pick.

Blake Ferguson, LSU: Brother of NFL long snapper Jake Ferguson, Blake was also at the Senior Bowl and has long snapping ability in his blood. Look for him to challenge for a starting long snapper spot this summer.

Fullbacks

Mikey Daniel
Photo by Matt Gade, The Daily Republic

Mikey Daniel, South Dakota State: Mikey Daniel looks to be a guy that could be picked up after the draft because of his physicality at the position. Even though he may not be drafted, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him make a 53 man roster because of what else he can do on special teams. Very versatile player.

Brian Herrien, Georgia: Brian Herrien wasn’t as highly touted as some of Georgia’s other running backs, but he’s worked his way up to a very important role in his senior year. Herrien runs so hard and looks to put defenders on the ground and because of this, I think he projects well as a fullback at the next level. Shoutout to @blanche91090225 on Twitter for putting me on to Herrien’s transition to FB.

Charlie Woerner, Georgia: Herrien’s teammate was actually recruited to Georgia as a wide receiver. After putting on some weight, he transitioned to tight end. With that background, you’d expect him to be a better receiver than blocker, but when he’s playing in line he bullies defenders in the run game. That’s why I think a move to fullback could be in his future.

Brady Ross, Iowa

Nick Ralston, UL Lafayette

Case Robinson, Lamar

Dayton Furuta, Hawaii

Returners

Joe Reed
Photo by Matt Riley, UVA Athletics

KJ Hamler, Penn State

Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

Antonio Gibson, Memphis

Devin Duvernay, Texas

Maurice Ffrench, Pitt

Jalen Reagor, TCU

Joe Reed, Virginia: In my opinion, Joe Reed is the best return man in this entire class. Reed has a thick frame to break tackles, but most importantly has the speed to pull away. He’s also a competent receiver. His ability as a returner and after the catch should get him drafted.

Isaiah Wright, Temple

Adrian Killins Jr., UCF

Darrynton Evans, Appalachian State: Evans put himself on the map as a returner and is also a legit RB prospect. He had some huge returns in big games. He has some serious speed and ran a 4.41 at the combine.

John Hightower, Boise State

Tra Minter, South Alabama: Tra Minter has NFL talent and some serious speed. He had to go the JUCO route, but that’s no issue at this point. If you can play, the league will find you. Minter will start out his career as a return man.

Raymond Calais, UL Lafayette

JJ Taylor, Arizona

Kirk Merritt, Arkansas State

KJ Osborn, Miami

CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan

James Proche, SMU

Tyler Simmons, Georgia

Grayland Arnold, Baylor

Marquez Callaway, Tennessee

Kyle Dugger, Lenoir-Rhyne

Sewo Olonilua, TCU

Brian Cole II, Mississippi State

Denzel Goolsby, Kansas State

D’Angelo Amos, James Madison

Special Teamers (Punt/Kickoff Coverage, FG Block, etc.)

Reggie Robinson II
Photo by Brett Rojo, University of Tulsa Athletics

Michael Pittman Jr., USC

Chase Claypool, Notre Dame

Tyler Simmons, Georgia: Simmons also made the returners list. He also started multiple games for the Bulldogs at receiver this year. He wears so many different hats and that’s why I think he can make a 53 man roster and contribute on special teams early on.

JaMycal Hasty, Baylor

Tanner Muse, Clemson: Great teams play some of their best players on special teams as much as they can. You saw this in previous years at Clemson with Christian Wilkins and Dexter Lawrence playing key roles. You’ll also notice plenty of other Clemson players on this list. Muse was a special teams contributor early on in his career and made a few big plays his freshman year in the National Championship against Alabama. He then surprised everyone by running a 4.43 at the combine, which only helps his case. Muse could also serve as a safety or WILL linebacker.

Khaleke Hudson, Michigan

Reggie Robinson II, Tulsa: Out of anyone in this class, the player I’m way higher on than most is Tulsa’s Reggie Robinson. Robinson is a very athletic, long and physical corner. At Tulsa, he ended his career with 4 blocked kicks.

Geno Stone, Iowa

AJ Terrell, Clemson

K’Von Wallace, Clemson

Isaiah Simmons, Clemson

Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

Jordyn Brooks, Texas Tech: Before coming into a starting role at linebacker where he earned a Senior Bowl invite, Brooks played over 300 snaps on special teams. His hard work, experience, and athleticism makes him easy to identify as a guy that will contribute on special teams early on.

Mason Gray, Robert Morris

Mantriel Reaves, Towson

Hunter Register, Southern

Shaun Bradley, Temple

Josiah Scott, Michigan State

Noah Igbinoghene, Auburn

Daniel Thomas, Auburn

Davion Taylor, Colorado

Evan Weaver, Cal

Tyrie Cleveland, Florida

Zack Baun, Wisconsin

Jaron Bryant, Fresno State

Antoine Brooks Jr., Maryland

Omar Bayless, Arkansas State

James Lynch, Baylor

Van Jefferson, Florida