Yeh, crazy right? Take a punter with the Browns’ first pick in the third round at Number 78. Really?
Araiza is not just any punter. He is a field position changer. And if Cleveland doesn’t pounce early, they will hear about missing out for a decade.
And get his ranking. Great Blue North Report has him listed at Number 77. Pro Football Network lists him #98. DeepFriedDraft.com shows him at 100. Every NFL draft site has him listed as the top punter.
Cleveland does have a pick in the fourth and sixth rounds plus two in the seventh. They are devoid of a fifth round pick. And yes, punters and kickers are usually seen being taken in the later rounds – if at all. Cleveland could just as easy draft Jordan Stout of Penn State or Georgia’s Jake Camarda in the seventh round of this year’s draft.
But listen closely that Araiza is not just a punter. And if the Browns want him and are expecting to see this player in the sixth, they are dead wrong. Not even in the fourth. You are absolutely correct that another punter will be available late. Jordan Stout of Penn State is ranked the second best punter with a ranking of 216 overall which is early seventh round. Araiza is ranked 77. See the difference already?
At the combine in warmups he booted an 80-yarder. Need more? Last year he averaged 51.1 yards per kick. If he had been in the NFL, that would have been good enough for second place.
Check out the highlight video for this play: against San Jose State Araiza’s team has a fourth down on their own 10. Araiza boots the ball which goes over the return man’s head and lands at the 25, then bounces forward untouched until it rests at the three-yard line. Raise your hand if anyone does not think that is changing field position on another level.
He is nicknamed the “Punt God.” Yes, really.
College: San Diego State
Weight: 200 pounds
Career starts: 35
- Athlete first
- Elite field position power
- In 2021 had 18 punts of over 60-yards
- Left-footed punts harder to catch
- Powerful leg
- Finished 2021 with a 51.1 average
- Uncaught kicks have a forward bounce
- Former track and soccer star
- Fearless tackler as well
- Field goal kicker as well for backup
- First Team All-MWC 2021
- Unanimous All-American
- Ray Guy Award winner
- Mountain West Conference Special Teams Player of the Year
- Hates touchbacks
- Ball spins quickly which does not give good hang time
- Not a great angle kicker for coffin corners
- Will whiff on blocks occasionally once beaten
Expert Draft Site Analysis
Araiza possesses elite power and field-flipping ability that could make him the highest-drafted punter since Todd Sauerbrun went 56th overall in 1995. Punts explode off his instep at a low launch angle with tremendous velocity and force. He has less regard for hang-time and coverage considerations than NFL special teams coaches will so he may be asked to dial back the long-ball mentality and dial in with more control from all field positions. Araiza has rare power and should continue to fine-tune his craft with more coaching and experience. If he learns to kick with more consistent control, the sky’s the limit.