The moment Jaguars GM Gene Smith drafted rookie P Bryan Anger in Round Three (70th overall), he subjected not only himself to intense scrutiny for making Anger the highest-drafted punter since the Bears selected Todd Sauerbrun in Round Two (56th overall) in 1995, but also his newest “field-position weapon,” as he said of Anger shortly after the selection.
Fortunately, Anger’s career is off to a promising start. He is second in the NFL in gross punting average (52.6) after two weeks. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise to our sources who watched Anger regularly boom 50-plus-yard punts in training camp, but his strong leg has been impressive to watch nonetheless.
Now for the scrutiny.
Anger’s net punting average (43.5), which is nearly 10 yards less than his gross, illustrates that the young punter out of Cal has a long way to go before he is a finished product. Word is Anger must improve his directional punting and hang time before he can become the field-position weapon Smith and the Jaguars envision.
A prime example came in Week Two, when Anger clearly outkicked his coverage, booming a 57-yarder right in the middle of the field that was returned 36 yards by dangerous Texans RS Trindon Holliday. Houston set up shop at the Jacksonville 41-yard line and scored its first TD just six plays later.
As is the case with almost all rookies, Anger is going to confront some bumps in the road, and we have heard no reasons to suggest he won’t develop into a fine player. But unlike most other rookie punters, Anger’s performance from week to week is going to be regularly dissected.