NEPD Staff Writer: Dan Hope
The notion of drafting a punter at all is often laughed at, but given the importance of punting to establishing field position in an NFL game, a quality punter is well worth a mid-round pick.
The Patriots employed that strategy in the fifth round of the 2010 NFL Draft when they selected Zoltan Mesko with the No. 150 overall pick. Their investment has paid off, as the Patriots have found a punter who fits what they do very well.
With having one of the NFL’s most explosive offenses, the most important task for the Patriots punter is being able to pin teams inside the 20-yard line, and deeper, when punting from a short field. While Mesko doesn’t have one of the league’s stronger legs among punters, he is one of the league’s best at pinning teams deep when punting from a short field.
Over the past two seasons, Mesko has placed the highest percentage (44.4) of his punts inside the 20-yard line. He consistently gets good hangtime, and the majority of his punts have not been returned.
Mesko is unlikely to ever have one of the league’s top punting averages, especially as long as he plays for a team where many of his punts come from comfortable field position. What he is for the Patriots, however, is a reliable punter who can consistently put opposing offenses in tough field position.
Mesko is not an elite punter, but he is easily the best punter to come out of the 2010 NFL Draft, currently being the only punter from the class to spend more than one full season with a team thus far. As the best player to come out of his class at an important position, giving the Patriots a crucial member of their special teams, he was well worth a fifth-round draft pick.