2022 NFL Draft Profile: San Diego State P/K Matt Araiza
The Aztecs’ “Punt God” gained a national following for his record-setting exploits last season. How high is his ceiling at the NFL level?
Matt Araiza is an NCAA punting G.O.A.T.
Matt Araiza has been selected by the Buffalo Bills with the 180th overall pick, in the sixth round of the NFL Draft.
— Buffalo Bills (@BuffaloBills) April 30, 2022
Punters are an often-overlooked asset on a football squad but San Diego State punter/kicker Matt Araiza has been frequently referenced as the most talented punt prospect in recent history.
But that’s only half-true: Araiza is also statistically the most talented punter prospect of all time.
As Matt Araiza prepares to break positional norms in the 2022 NFL Draft class, his talents as a punter can be traced back to his roots at Rancho Bernardo High in San Diego. Between high school punting and a love of soccer, he developed a “leg of steel” that was easily the most powerful in college football this last season and beyond.
Araiza set a number of ALL-TIME records in this past season, and the lefty has shown that punters can be tough as nails to boot.
Review of Records Matt Araiza Has Broken:
- Araiza set a new all-time Football Bowl Subdivision record for yards per punt averaging 51.19 yards per punt, passing Texas A&M Braden Mann’s all-time record of 50.98.
- Araiza shattered the all-time record of 32 punts of 50 or more yards in a single season, by achieving 39.
- Araiza broke the all-time record for 60+ yard punts in a single season with 18 altogether.
- Araiza managed six punts over 70 yards and two in excess of 80 yards.
- Araiza had the season’s longest punt, 86 yards against San Jose State.
- Araiza was this year’s Ray Guy Award winner, and after Marshall Faulk was denied the Heisman Trophy as well as the Doak Walker Award (twice), he became the first Aztec to win a national college football award.
So what’s his potential in the 2022 NFL Draft? Let’s take a look.
In the past 22 years, there have been several third-round selections at punter. John Stark from Florida State made it into the second round, way back in 1982. Ray Guy, for whom a college football award is named, was a first-round pick in 1973.
A legitimate question is: Can Matt Araiza also be selected in the first round? He had an excellent showing in the combine, punting with stunning accuracy before impressing attendees with his sprinting.
Araiza doesn’t just punt, though: He was the Aztecs’ place kicker before taking on double duty. He has incredible poise and does not lose his cool and, for much of the 2021 season, led special teams in tackles.
In the case that his placekicks were returned, which was the exception and not the rule (84.93% touchback rate in 2021), he had an uncanny knack for then taking down the receiver, thanks in part to his high school track skills.
Measurables (taken from Dane Brugler and Draft Scout)
Height – 6′ and 1 1/8″
Weight – 200 pounds
40-yard time – 4.68 seconds
10-yard split time – 1.61 seconds
Arm length – 30 1/2″
Hand size – 9 1/2″
Wingspan – 73 1/8″
Vertical jump – 32″
Broad jump – 10′ and 1″ (or 121″)
Araiza can literally “flip the field.” This is no better illustrated than noting that he achieved TWO 80+ yard punts. These were certified piss missiles not to be confused with lucky bounces and rolls.
Averaging 51.19 yards per punt, Araiza is the all-time single-season average punt distance leader. He is also highly accurate as a punter, with 37 of his 79 punts (46.8%) landing inside the opponents’ 20-yard line in 2021 against just 15 touchbacks.
As a field goal kicker, his completion percentage went down each college season. In 2019, he made 84.6% of his kicks. In 2020, he dialed in 71.4%, and in 2021, he achieved 64.3%. This might have been due to a tendency by head coach Brady Hoke to put him in aggressive scoring situations, asking Araiza to attempt many tries from 40 yards and beyond in later seasons (he was 3-of-9 from 50+ yards in 2021).
Araiza’s leg strength is remarkable; however, he will need to cut down on the power in certain instances to further achieve NFL success.
The reality is that Araiza is one of a kind, hence the nicknames “Anomaly” and “Punt God.”
Matt Araiza is a certifiable weapon. This is understood by several NFL football squads, which is why he has become a hot item on many teams’ big boards, chiefly the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots.
Bill Belichick has a notable fixation on left-footed kickers.
Araiza will be selected early on Day Two, if not late in the first round.