Jack Fox, Rice football’s ace punter, has his eyes set on the NFL Draft. Will a brilliant showing at the East-West Shrine Game be enough to earn a selection?
After a strong showing in practices leading up the exhibition, Jack Fox wowed under the lights in Tampa at the East-West Shrine Game. The Ray Guy Award semifinalist booted five kicks, downing three inside the 20 with a long of 57 yards. Now he’s on to the NFL Draft.
Fox hasn’t learned yet whether or not he’ll be invited to the 2019 NFL Combine. It goes without saying an invitation would be a plus. The trip to Indianapolis would afford him one more chance to speak with NFL teams.
With or without an invitation, Fox will be fine. He had the opportunity to speak with all 32 teams during the Shrine Game festivities. Those conversations were extremely positive and gave the Fox camp a better understanding of the teams with which he would be the best fit.
At this point, Fox is going to get a shot. The biggest question that remains is this: will he be pursuing his professional football future as a 2019 NFL Draft selection or as an undrafted free agent?
There have been 37 punters taken in the NFL Draft since 2000, roughly two per year. Four punters were selected in the 2018 draft, with Michael Dickson from Texas coming off the board first in the fifth round. The all-time record for most punters selected is five, most recently in 1983.
Two of three finalists for the Ray Guy Award, Texas A&M’s Braden Mann and Cincinnati’s James Smith are all returning to school next season. Utah’s Mitch Wishnowsky, Stanford’s Jake Bailey and NC State’s AJ Cole will challenge Fox for the top spot on team’s punter boards.
By the numbers
Here’s how Fox stacks up against Wishnowsky and Bailey as well as every punter drafted in the past five drafts. Data is from each player’s final college football season. **Note: not all data was readily available for FCS players. Table scrolls left to right.**
Drafted or not. Jack Fox can punt. He’ll get a chance one way or another.