Thanks to some second-day trade downs, the Buffalo Bills found themselves in possession of the first selection of the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft. With that 180th overall pick, general manager Brandon Beane proved patient and managed to land San Diego State punter Matt Araiza.
Considered to be among the best—if not the best—specialist in the draft, Araiza (known by his nickname ‘Punt God’) has a massive leg and a well-known ability to flip the field from his own end zone. His tape is littered with examples of 50+ yard punts this past year, which allowed him to set an NCAA single-season record by averaging 51.2 yards per attempt in 2021 and the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter. He also brings at least some experience as a field goal kicker, and solid athleticism (4.68 40-yard dash, 121” broad jump).
The biggest hole in his game that he will need to work on is adding direction and hang time to his kicks, in order to allow the coverage unit to get downfield. Luckily, he appears to have the leg strength to do just that. As his team’s do-everything kicking specialist, he also doesn’t have any experience as a holder, although he’s been practicing that in the lead-up to the draft.
Although the Buffalo Bills ended up adjusting Matt Haack’s contract down to just a one-year deal, he may not even make it that far if Araiza proves he can be the future at the position in training camp.