Here’s a fun fact: of the 35 players who made at least ten NFL punts last season, 17 were undrafted out of college. You might have thought that more punters would have come from the UDFA ranks, but it’s just as likely that a team used a draft pick on a punter as it is that they didn’t.
Also, if you’re wondering: the drafted punters had a better average last season. Barely (45.77 to 45.01, gross).
The Buffalo Bills have two punters in camp this season, both of whom took the undrafted route to the NFL. One of them came through that path this season, and he might have a decent shot at making the roster.
Name: Austin Rehkow
Height/Weight: 6’3”, 213 lbs.
Draft: UDFA (2017)
Financial Situation (per Spotrac): Rehkow is on a standard three-year UDFA deal. He’s set to make $465k this season with $90k raises in each of the next two seasons. There is no dead cap hit if the Bills release him.
2016 Recap: Rehkow pulled double duty for the 9-4 Vandals over his four seasons there (he made a name for himself as a placekicker in high school). As a kicker last year, he finished with a Sun Belt-leading 120 points (26/29 FGs, 42/44 XPs). As a punter, he finished fifth in the conference with a 41.6 gross average on 55 punts. He kicked four field goals, including the winner as time expired, in a 34-31 victory over Louisiana-Monroe in October.
Positional Outlook: It’s unlikely that Rehkow is going to be in the mix for the full-time kicking position, but he may have a legitimate shot at unseating incumbent punter Colton Schmidt. Schmidt has excelled at times, but he was one of the worst punters in the league last year. Even though he was brought back after becoming a free agent, it’s not a stretch to think that he could be let go if Rehkow excels in the offseason.
2017 Offseason: Rehkow signed with the initial flurry of free agents after the draft ended. Rehkow has been doing a little bit of everything this offseason, working as both a punter and kicker in minicamps up to this point.
2017 Season Outlook: Again, Rehkow isn’t going to be the Bills’ primary kicker this year. He’s strictly up for the punter’s job. That said, his versatility is an angle that could be useful. If he and Schmidt are neck-and-neck going into the season, it could even serve as a tie-breaker. He probably has the best chance of any UDFA to make the Bills outright in 2017; at this point, it’s a coin flip.