But punters are people too, and the Baltimore Ravens started the run on the position earlier than expected - selecting Penn State’s Jordan Stout in the fourth round. Stout was picked with the 130th overall selection, which means he was off the board before the Rams were even on the clock for their second draft choice.
In a mild surprise, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted a punter only three picks later - but it was not the “punt god”, Matt Araiza, from San Diego State - it was Jake Camarda from Georgia.
Araiza was selected over a full round later by the Buffalo Bills - 180th overall. By the time the “punt god” had been selected, the Rams had only made three selections: Logan Bruss (OG), Decobie Durant (CB), and Kyren Williams (RB).
It seems fair to conclude that LA planned to select a punter in 2022, but the draft board did not shake out as expected. There are four factors that contributed to the Rams not selecting a punter in this year’s draft:
1 - LA signed competent veteran Riley Dixon
The Rams cut long-time punter Johnny Hekker at the on-set of free agency, and there were big shoes to fill in his place. LA is expected to have a training camp competition at the position, and the current front runner is Riley Dixon - who the Rams signed after his release from the New York Giants. Dixon had previously worked with the Rams special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis during their time with the Denver Broncos, so there is some familiarity there.
While Los Angeles could still bring in competition for Dixon, and they probably should, the veteran punter is at least a known commodity.
2 - Positional value
By the time the first punter was taken in the draft, the Rams had only made a single selection. With the team’s first pick sent to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford and the following second and third round selections having been traded to the Broncos for the half-season rental of Von Miller, LA was focused on selecting players in the late third round and after. There were still areas of the roster that required depth ahead of the 2022 season, and it’s difficult to prioritize a low-impact position like punter ahead of rotational roles at cornerback and running back - which the Rams filled with their selections during the run on punters.
Los Angeles won’t lose a game this season, outside of an injury that leaves them desperate for help at the position, because of their punter - that also means they probably won’t win won because of them this year. Can the same be said of Durant and Williams?
3 - The Rams were left with the scraps
The Chicago Bears selected the fourth and final punter, Trenton Gill of North Carolina State, in the seventh round of the draft (255 overall).
Bears take P Trent Gill. That's four punters drafted. Rams looking at the punter scraps!— TurfShowTimes (@TurfShowTimes) April 30, 2022
The Rams traded back late in the draft in order to acquire an additional seventh round selection - and it seemed the plan may have been to acquire a punter. But with Stout coming off the board in the fourth round and earlier than expected, it’s probable that Los Angeles didn’t find value in selecting a punter over the late round flyers the team took on prospects such as Kansas State’s Russ Yeast (DB) and Michigan State’s AJ Arcuri (OT).
4 - There’s still time to add competition for Dixon
The Rams started the process of adding undrafted free agents before the conclusion of the draft - and while the full list is not yet official it’s possible we see a punter’s name included.
With four teams selecting punters, it could mean four additional names hitting the open market. For example, the Bills’ current punter is Matt Haack - who has spent six seasons in the NFL and is considered to have a strong leg. The Buccaneers could also release veteran Bradley Pinion after selecting a punter in the fourth round.
As we’ve seen time and time again with general manager Les Snead, the Rams are never done trying to upgrade their team and continuing to add talent - so it’s entirely possible they will add another punter leading up to training camp.
Will reinforcements be in the form of a college free agent or recently divorced veteran? Well, that’s all part of the beautiful mystery we call the future.