The Bucs surprised a lot of people when they drafted a punter in last year’s draft, but how good of a good pick was it?
The Bucs took a punter with the 133rd pick in last year’s draft. Jake Camarda was the second punter drafted in the round after the Baltimore Ravens selected Jordan Stout out of Penn State with the 130th pick, in what was a mini run on punters. Since Stout was taken before Camarda and drafted by the highly touted special teams guru John Harbaugh, who cut his teeth in the NFL as a special teams coach before getting a head job with the Ravens, a very realistic assumption could have been made that of the two, Stout would be a better punter in the league.
The two rookies are only a little more than halfway through their inaugural season as professionals but to this point, not only has Camarda been the better punter, it seems like it may have been Jason Licht and Todd Bowles, rather than Eric DeCosta and John Harbaugh, who nabbed the ‘Justin Tucker’ of punters. Camarda has already garnered lofty praise from high places. As a rookie, Camarda’s name has made it to the Pat McAfee show *Warning NSFW Language*, where the hall of fame nominated punter himself gushed over Tampa Bay’s newest special teams weapon. The Georgia alum has also already been awarded special teams player of the week honors in his young career.
Though he has not scored a single point, the Bucs new star punter has had heavy contributions towards winning. It’s not as noticeable when you’re not watching for it but the hidden yardage of a truly great punter is staggering. The phrase, ‘Winning the field position battle’ is thrown around constantly with little detail or context.
Tampa Bay, for as long as Jake Camarda is the franchises’ punter, has a predetermined edge in this battle. Hypothetically, the Bucs, as they often do, can start a game on offense by going three-and-out and then, without any success moving the ball they can line up to punt from deep in their own territory with the luxury of knowing they will be able to pin the other team’s offense deep in its own end.
That luxury has an incredible trickle down effect on the rest of the game. With the opposing team’s offense backed up they are more likely to run conservative plays, helping Tampa’s defense force the Bucs opponent into a punt. Since they do not have Jake Camarda, this in turn provides the Tampa Bay offense with good starting field position.
In our ‘Mid-season edition of Tampa Bay Bucs superlatives’ Jake Camarda was credited with being a player who could soon become a household name amongst Bucs fans due to his increasingly impressive performance. Since week six against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Camarda’s average yards per punt have steadily increased in each game. Initially, they rose from 46 to 46.5. Following that, was an increase to 53.4 and then 59.5 in the Bucs win versus the Los Angeles Rams. Last week his average boomed all the way up to a whopping 61 yards per punt in Munich as Tampa faced the Seattle Seahawks. Camarda has already bagged himself a spot in Bucs’ lore. He etched his name into the team’s record books when he tied Sean Landeta for the longest punt in Tampa Bay Bucs’ history.
There are many more ways to impact a game than scoring and 10 games into a stellar rookie campaign a case can be made that no rookie from the Bucs’ 2022 draft class has been more impactful than Jake Camarda.