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2021 NFL Draft Preview: Which Picks Will Contribute On Special Teams

A look at where the Seahawks stand on special teams heading into the 2021 NFL Draft, and at some of the top prospects at that position. 

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Florida place kicker Evan McPherson (19) makes an extra point during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Arkansas, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

The 2021 NFL draft kicks off next week, though as things currently stand, the Seahawks will be sitting out Day 1 of the draft having traded their first-round pick to acquire safety Jamal Adams last summer. While the Seahawks could always add more picks via trades, for now they have just three picks due to the trades made to acquire Adams, defensive end Carlos Dunlap II and guard Gabe Jackson. And whether the Seahawks end up making just those three picks or if John Schneider works his magic and they end up selecting more players, there will still be opportunities to add talent to the roster, so over the next two weeks, Seahawks.com will take a position-by-position look at where things currently stand for the Seahawks, as well as the top draft prospects at each position. We'll also look at Seattle's draft history at each position over the past 11 drafts under general manager John Schneider and head coach Pete Carroll. 

So far we've covered the offensive and defensive linesrunning backsafetyreceivercornerbacktight endlinebacker and quarterback and today we wrap things up with special teams.  

Seattle's 2021 Draft Picks: Round 2, No. 56 overall; Round 4, No. 129 overall; Round 7, Pick No. 250 overall.

Draft History Under Carroll & Schneider: P Michael Dickson (No. 149 overall, 2018).

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Where The Seahawks Stand

When it comes to the specialist positions—kicker, punter and long snapper—the Seahawks have only used one draft pick under Carroll and Schneider, taking eventual All-Pro and Pro-Bowl punter Michael Dickson in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. So it would be a pretty big surprise to see the Seahawks address those spots next weekend, both because they have limited resources in this year's draft, and because they're in really good shape at all three spots with Dickson, kicker Jason Myers, who didn't miss a field goal attempt last year, and long snapper Tyler Ott, who was selected to the NFC Pro-Bowl squad last year.

But while the Seahawks aren't likely to draft a specialist, there is a good chance that at least a couple of the players they select will be contributors on special teams. In addition to Dickson, the Seahawks have drafted several players in the past few drafts who have been big special teams contributors, including Shaquem Griffin in 2018; Marquise Blair, Cody Barton, Ugo Amadi, Ben Burr-Kirven and Travis Homer in 2019; and DeeJay Dallas and Freddie Swain last year. That infusion of young talent over the past few years helped the Seahawks put together one of the league's best special teams units in 2020, the phase of Seattle's play that was the most consistent throughout the season, Carroll said last year. 

Carroll takes special teams play as seriously as any coach in the league, so when the Seahawks are evaluating players they might pick next week, especially on the defensive side of the ball, they'll be looking not just if that player might be a future contributor at their given position, but how they might step in and help right away on special teams. So again, while the Seahawks probably aren't going to draft a specialist, there's a good chance that members of that class will have a big role on special teams in 2021.

NFL.com's Top 5 Kickers

1. Jose Borregales, Miami

Overview (via NFL.com): Borregales brings the same energy to the kicker position that you would find from any other position player on a roster. He has always played with a chip on his shoulder after being overlooked by Power Five schools coming out of high school. Borregales' ability to bang kickoffs out of the end zone and make kicks of 50-plus yards with consistency should go a long way toward ensuring he's drafted with a chance to become an instant NFL starter.

2. Evan McPherson, Florida

Overview (via NFL.com): McPherson handled both field goal and kickoff duties at Florida with a leg that generates decent power and quick lift on each kick. He strikes the ball with good consistency and an end-over-end delivery that leads to quality accuracy and placement. While he struggled more than usual beyond 40 yards in 2020, it should be correctable. McPherson has a good chance of being a Day 3 selection and finding work in the NFL.

3. Blake Haubeil, Ohio State

Overview (via NFL.com): Big kicker with below-average accuracy totals under 40 yards and a lack of experience kicking from beyond 50. To be fair, the Ohio State offense required many more extra points and kickoffs than field goals. Despite having a 55-yard make in 2019, the ball really doesn't jump off of his foot on kickoffs or field goals. He could find an invite to camp but might be a longshot to win a job.

4. Riley Patterson, Memphis

Overview (via NFL.com): Patterson's 2019 season might have been a better representation of who he is as a field goal kicker, but his 2020 results might be more heavily weighed by teams. Wind seemed to impact him in a couple of games, which should be taken into account, and he does strike the ball fairly consistently. He has enough leg for longer field goals, but it's not a big leg by NFL standards. He's likely to get a shot to prove himself as a priority free agent.

5. Quinn Nordin, Michigan

Overview (via NFL.com): Based on leg strength alone, Nordin could get a look in an NFL camp, but the issues with accuracy and consistency that have dogged him for all four seasons could be hard for teams to ignore.

NFL.com's rankings of the top kicking prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.

NFL.com's Top 5 Punters

1. James Smith, Cincinnati

Overview (via NFL.com): No overview available.

2. Max Duffy, Kentucky

Overview (via NFL.com): Aussie import who spent earlier parts of his life playing soccer, basketball and Australian Rules Football. Duffy is entering into "I have mortgage payments" territory as a player who will be 28 years old as a rookie, but his lively leg and ability to flip the field might make his age irrelevant to some teams. Like most rugby-style punters, he'll need to prove he can work consistently as a traditional punter and create enough hang time for punt cover teams.

3. Pressley Harvin, III, Georgia Tech

Overview (via NFL.com): Wide-body punter with extra quick operation time. Harvin was a heralded punter out of high school and seemed to improve throughout his time at Georgia Tech. His quick get-off might need to be slowed to help out his coverage team, though. He has an NFL leg and is consistent as a directional punter, which gives him a shot to be drafted.

4. Drue Chrisman, Ohio State

Overview (via NFL.com): Punter with outstanding size and good leg strength. Chrisman stood out in all three of Ohio State's playoff games dating back to the 2019 season, striking the ball with good consistency. However, he will need to prove he can kick with better hang-time in order to make an NFL team.

5. Adam Williams, Memphis

Overview (via NFL.com): Williams has had better seasons than he did in 2020. Regardless, he doesn't have a booming leg and doesn't kick with enough hang time. He's a long shot to make a team.

NFL.com's rankings of the top punter prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.

NFL.com's Top 4 Long Snappers

1. Thomas Fletcher, Alabama

Overview (via NFL.com): Capable and steady but smallish, Fletcher lacks plus zip and pinpoint accuracy on his snaps. He has a shot to make it, but might end up battling for a spot as an undrafted free agent.

2. Turner Bernard, San Diego State

Overview (via NFL.com): Four-year snapper with good overall velocity and a tight, consistent delivery. He's smaller than average and isn't much of an athlete down the field in coverage. While he improved his consistency in 2020, he does have a history of low snaps, which could be a concern for NFL teams in the market for a snapper.

3. Ryan Langan, Georgia Southern

Overview (via NFL.com): Four-year snapper with small frame handling long- and short-snapping duties. He short snaps with solid accuracy and velocity, and there isn't much of a hitch in his delivery. However, his long snaps lack velocity and consistency to the target, which hurt his chances of making a roster.

4. Camaron Cheeseman, Michigan

Overview (via NFL.com): 2020 opt-out with three years of handling snapping duties for the Wolverines. Cheeseman improved from 2018 to 2019 as a kick snapper with consistent accuracy but teams will likely have concerns about his inaccuracies with long-snapping over the last couple of seasons.

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