The 2020 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Big Board will be rolled out over the course of four weeks by position, featuring players to watch and a breakdown of what NFL scouts look for through the eyes of Collegiate Bowl Director of College Scouting, Dane Vandernat.
Today, in our final Big Board post, we feature specialists:
THREE TO WATCH
Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia: The quirky kicker is known as “Hot Rod” and has released his own rap song, but what has drawn the most attention is his powerful leg to boot. His father played football at Florida and has coached soccer for the past 30 years in Brazil, passing down his technique that has helped make Blankenship one of the most consistent kickers in college football. In 2018, Blankenship nailed all 65 of his extra point attempts, while connecting on 19-of-23 field goals (82.6%), including a long of 53 yards.
Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern: An extremely consistent kicker, Bass has shown a knack for converting in the clutch, nailing several field goals and game winners as time has expired. He has connected on 34-of-40 career field goal attempts, with a long of 50 yards. Bass also possesses a powerful leg on kickoffs with 143 touchbacks during the past three seasons and has filled in on occasion as punter when needed, averaging 48 yards per punt on five attempts. Finally, who doesn’t like a tough kicker? Bass isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty and made six tackles last season. He has earned All-Sun Belt honors in each of the past two seasons.
Alex Pechin, Bucknell: A three-time All-Patriot selection and two-time team captain, Pechin has proven to be a do-it-all talent during his time at Bucknell. Not only is he one of the top punter prospects in college football, but he also handles kickoff and field goal duties while serving as the holder on extra points. For his career, Pechin has averaged an impressive 43.7 yards per punt, including a booming 71-yard punt against Villanova last season.
To play specialist in the NFL is all about one thing: consistency.
For punters, scouts want to see someone with an athletic body who can adjust to an off-target snap; soft hands to catch the ball away from his body and out front to initiate the drop; leg strength to get good pop on the ball that will carry it deep downfield; and, accurate placement across the field to avoid a dangerous returner.
Kickers are more about accuracy than leg strength, but both qualities are rightfully coveted. On kickoffs, evaluators want to see kicks landing in or very close to the end zone in order to minimize the opportunities for return. For field goals, scouts want to see good lift on the ball to get it up and over the D-line, as well as a ball that stays straight rather than zig-zagging on its way through the uprights. Converting 85 percent isn’t good enough in college because it will only get more difficult with the narrower NFL posts.
For long snappers – in addition to consistency – scouts and coaches want to see a tight spiral that arrives at its location accurately and quickly. Whether it’s short or deeper snaps, any adjustment that his teammate might have to make will throw off the timing of the kick, and even fractions of a second can be the difference between success and failure.
2020 NFLPA COLLEGIATE BOWL BIG BOARD: SPECIALISTS
|First Name||Last Name||School||Position||Height||Weight|
|Chase||Vinatieri||South Dakota State||K||6-1||215|