Matt Araiza, Punter from SDSU (San Diego State University), is an unexpected name to come up in the draft because well, he is a punter. Not many punters are known to be drafted as most of them go undrafted as the position isn’t as important. The highest-drafted punter was Ray Guy who was drafted in the 1st round of the 1973 draft. He was taken at pick 23 by the Raiders who would go on to have a hall of fame career. While Matt Araiza won’t go that high, he’s been getting some attention as possibly one of the best special team players in the NFL Draft.
Matt Araiza at SDSU
Matt Araiza would start his college career at SDSU but not as a punter, as a kicker. For the 2019 season, Araiza would go 22-26 for field goals maintaining an 84.6% conversion rating. He would score 94 points for the Aztecs that season.
Araiza would return as a kicker for his 2020 sophomore season. During this season he would go 10-14 field goals with a 74.1% rating. At this point in his college career, he would start assuming punting duties. For punting, Araiza would have 5 punts for an average of 49.8 yards with the longest at 58 and a total of 249 yards.
For his junior season in 2021, Araiza would take over punting duties and kicking full time. He would kick 18-28 field goals and 64.3% while scoring 99 points. But he was outstanding for punting he would go 79 punts for 4,044 yards with an average of 51.2 yards. He would win the Ray Guy award in 2021 for being the best punter in the nation.
Drafting A Punter
Drafting a punter isn’t something that is common. The last punter to be drafted was Pressley Harvin III last year in the 7th round. While the Eagles don’t have a full-on need at the punter position, they could definitely use an upgrade. Last year Arryn Siposs had 55 punts for 2,416 yards and an average of 43.9 yards per punt. These stats ranked him middle to middle bottom last year in the NFL. And the one memorable punt where Siposs shanked it against the Cowboys on the last game of the season is a reminder of his rankings.
While Howie Ros (even with his drafting woes) would never pick a punter in the early rounds, Matt Araiza is an option for a late-round pick. The kid from SDSU has proved he can hang with the best when it comes to punting. There’s also an upside that he can kick field goals as he can translate to that on kickoffs or as a backup kicker. Araiza could be a solid 5th or 6th round pick the Eagles could make to bolster up their special team.
Eric Williamson is the host of the Union podcast Full Time Philly and also contrinutes to many of the Union coverage. He is a huge fan of all the 4 major Philly teams on top of music too.