Special teams can often be the difference between winning and losing in football, but fans are seldom excited to see their team spend a high draft pick on a kicker or punter. While it doesn’t happen often, occasionally an exceptional talent comes along in the kicking game and a team will use a pick in the first two rounds on them. Today, we look at the 19 times that a kicker or punter has been selected in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft.
2005 – Mike Nugent, kicker, 2nd round (47th overall), New York Jets
The most recent came a decade ago when the Jets took the kicker out of the Ohio State in the second round after their previous kicker, Doug Brien, had a bit of a playoff meltdown in what should have been a playoff upset win in Pittsburgh. Since the Jets traded away their first round pick that year, Nugent was actually the first member of their ’05 draft class. He only lasted four years in New York and went 3-9 in field goals of 50 yards or longer. That’s bad enough that some Jets fans called him one of their biggest draft disappointments ever. And this is going by Jets letdown standards, which are tougher than most.
2000 – Sebastian Janikowski, kicker, 1st round (17th overall), Oakland Raiders
Seabass! Fifteen years later and Janikowski is still the Raiders kicker. He also remains the only kicker taken in the first round in more than 30 drafts. In 2011, he made a 63-yard field goal to tie the NFL record also held by Jason Elam and Tom Dempsey, though Matt Prater eclipsed that mark by a yard in 2013. Janikowski does, however, hold the record for the longest field goal attempted, a 76-yarder in 2008 that fell well short.
1995 – Todd Sauerbrun, punter, 2nd round (56th overall), Chicago Bears
It takes 20 years to find our most recent punter taken in the first two round of the draft. Todd Sauerbrun has his place in NFL history firmly secured as being the cockiest punter in the league. The year he was drafted, Sauerbrun showed up to Bears camp in a car with a personalized license plate that read “HANGTIME.” While Sauerbrun made the Pro Bowl three times and was the first player since the merger to lead a conference in punting average for three straight seasons, his career was marked by a DWI arrest and being implicated a report that said he had steroid prescriptions. He was also suspended for the first month of the 2006 season for reportedly testing positive for ephedra.
1992 – Jason Hanson, kicker, 2nd round (56th overall), Detroit Lions
Hard to argue that the Lions didn’t get the most out of this pick, as Hanson hung around Detroit for 21 seasons — playing more games with one team than any other player in NFL history — making two Pro Bowls and becoming the all-time franchise scoring leader. He holds just about every Lions kicking record, though is tied with Garo Yepremian for the team record of most field goals made in a single game with six.
1988 – Chip Lohmiller, kicker, 2nd round (55th overall), Washington Redskins
Six years after having the only kicker to win MVP in NFL history, Washington spent their second-round pick on the kicker out of Minnesota. Lohmiller spent seven seasons with the Redskins and was the kicker on their last Super Bowl team. In that 1991 season, Lohmiller made four field goals from further than 45 yards in a comeback victory over the Cowboys. He led the NFL in field goals made that year, as well as the following season.