With the NFL Draft less than three months away, a handful of Notre Dame football players are preparing for the next level, including punter Tyler Newsome. Here’s why Newsome would be a perfect fit for the Chargers on the West Coast.
Regardless of what people might say, punters are people too. The national sports media and pundits might only be talking about quarterbacks and the ridiculously deep field of elite defensive talent in this year’s draft, but that doesn’t mean the punters can’t get some love too. This year’s class of punters features some pretty big legs and guys who will undoubtedly make NFL rosters as rookies. One of those names is 2018 Notre Dame captain Tyler Newsome.
Newsome finished his graduate season as one of the best punters in the school’s history. He is No. 1 for the Irish in both total career punts (225) and career punt average (44.1 yards) and holds numerous season and single-game records as well. To get an idea of the type of cannon Newsome has for a leg, simply watch last season’s game vs. Vanderbilt. He proved to be the most deadly weapon Notre Dame had, as he set the school record for single-game punting average with five boots averaging 59.6 yards. All five punts traveled over 50-yards, with three going north of 60-yards — including a 63-yarder to help seal the win late in the fourth quarter.
Looking at Newsome as an NFL prospect, he is consistently ranked as one of the top-10 punters in this year’s class and will more than likely go undrafted and sign with a team as an undrafted free agent (UDFA). It certainly isn’t rare for punters to be drafted, but since 2000, there have been 37 total punters taken in the draft, which is roughly two punters per year. The odds just don’t fall in his favor, but that certainly doesn’t mean he won’t find his way on a roster and have a great career. The majority of punters and kickers follow that exact same blueprint.
Newsome has the ideal size and athleticism needed to punt at the next level. Standing 6-3 and weighing 215 pounds, he possesses more than enough power to flip the field and prevent elite NFL returners from getting a chance to make a play. While there’s no doubt the power is there, Newsome is prone to the occasional shank, which was seen a few times throughout the past season.
Now when looking at where he would fit at the next level, I took into account the biggest factor for special teams players and playing time, and that is team need. With that in mind, the Los Angeles Chargers would be the perfect fit for Newsome in the NFL.
Coming off a 12-4 season and Divisional Round playoff appearance, the Chargers quietly had one of the better teams in the league last year. A young, energetic defense coupled with an explosive offense lead by future Hall of Famer Philip Rivers made them a problem in the AFC.
Where they struggled, especially early in the season, was special teams. The team kicked off the season with their 2016 sixth-round draft pick Drew Kaser holding for extra points and field goals and punting. After being replaced as the holder and struggling early, Kaser was cut and replaced by veteran punter Donnie Jones, who had retired earlier in 2018 after winning the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles.
When it was all said and done, the Chargers finished 31st in the league in gross punting average (43.3 yards) and dead last in net punting average (38.5 yards). Individually, Jones seemed to be a serviceable replacement, averaging 42.3 yards per attempt on 47 punts while landing 15 inside the 20.
With the status of Jones being re-signed still unclear at the moment, there could be an immediate need for the Chargers that Newsome could fill. The Chargers would most likely bring in a veteran and could sign Newsome to compete for the job during training camp.
Newsome punting out west isn’t too hard to imagine, especially since we recently watched it first-hand. On January 19, he and former Irish kicker and teammate Justin Yoon both competed in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in Pasadena, CA. Newsome punted three times and averaged just under 42 yards per punt with two landing inside the 20.
At the end of the day, there is no denying Newsome has the size and leg to punt at the next level. Though he will most likely go undrafted, once the Mr. Irrelevant pick is made, it won’t be long until his phone rings with teams ready to sing him. The goofy, energetic Newsome just seems like the perfect fit for the West Coast, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he lands with the Los Angeles Chargers.