Has a good leg that does a nice job getting hangtime and force the fair catch deep inside enemy territory. Shows kick off ability and flashes skills on onside kick.
Will line drive some punts and outkick his coverage. Doesn't really do a great job as a directional kicker in trying to work the sideline. Struggles to drive the ball inside the 10-yard line as a kickoff specialist.
Missed the bowl game this past year because of a brain tumor that was discovered late in the season. Initially, though benign he had surgery to have it removed in late December and indicates he's ready to play football again and it should no longer be an issue. You like his consistency as the punter all four years, averaging 43.3 yards on 262 career kicks. Had 80 punts inside the 20. Kicked off the past two years, but only had 3 touchbacks in 83 kicks.
If the tumor is no longer an issue, then that's a good thing. Long flashes skills and did a good job kicking in doors in the Carrier Dome at Syracuse. But that might have made him look better than he really is. He's a good punter, but nothing special. Good leg, but not a great leg. Gets good hangtime indoors, but not as consistent when he's kicking in elements. And while he can kickoff, he's not really a threat to do so at the next level. Long is the type of guy that bounces around the league for a few summers and then gets an opportunity due to an injury. And if he can make the most of that opportunity, then he could stick in the pros. But unless he really works on his directional kicking skills or plays on an indoor team, I don't see a whole lot of upside to be more than an average NFL punter.
Long could get by as a stopgap replacement for Koenen. His ability to kick off gives him added value in Atlanta, but he's a far cry from having Koenen's skills. Although the new kickoff rules would help him, but he's not a threat to get a lot of touchbacks even if spotted five more yards. Kicking in the dome he might be an OK placement guy, but there are stronger-legged punters with better placement and directional kicking skills. The Falcons would have to be really desperate to think he has a shot at landing a job in the next two to three years.
Long is worth a look in camp as a body, but is a longshot to make a roster initially.
1-poor, 2-weak, 3-above average, 4-very good, 5-elite
Leg Strength: 3.0
Directional Kicking: 2.5
Clutch Kicking: 2.5
Scouting reports of the kickers, punts, and long snappers in the 2011 Draft.
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