GREEN BAY, Wis. – In a tradition that stretches more than a decade, here is our annual ranking of the 90 players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster. This isn’t merely a look at the best players. Rather, it’s a formula that combines talent, salary, importance of the position, depth at the position and, for young players, draft positioning. More than the ranking, we hope you learn a little something about every player on the roster.
No. 26: P JK Scott (6-6, 208, third season, Alabama)
Through two seasons, there have been times when Scott has shown why the Packers used a fifth-round draft pick on him in 2018.
Also through two seasons, there have been too many times when Scott’s performance has shown why no team should ever draft a punter.
It’s interesting to look at the six drafts from 2015 through 2019, when 10 punters were selected. Jacksonville’s Logan Cook (seventh round, 2018) finished last season No. 1 in the league in net punting while the Giants’ Riley Dixon (seventh round, 2016) tied for eighth. Meanwhile, two other punters, Scott and the Bucs’ Bradley Pinion (fifth round, 2015, by the 49ers) finished in the bottom quarter of the league in net punting and two others, Johnny Townsend (fifth round, 2018 by the Raiders) and Drew Kaser (sixth round, 2016, by the Chargers) were out of the league.
Meanwhile, five of the top 10 in net punting average went undrafted.
In 2017 with Green Bay, former undrafted free agent Justin Vogel tied for seventh in the league with a net average of 41.6 yards per punt. Vogel didn’t have a great leg but he made up for it with hang time and placement. In the 2018 draft, general manager Brian Gutekunst drafted a punter – only the third selected in the past quarter century.
It seemed like a good decision. For a while, anyway. After a big training camp and strong first six weeks to his career, Scott stumbled – especially down the stretch – and wound up tied for 26th with a net average of 38.8 yards. It was much the same story in 2019. Through the first six weeks, Scott was fourth in the league with a net average of 44.8 yards. However, of the 30 punters with at least 30 punts from Week 7 through Week 17, Scott was 28th in the league with a net average of 36.4 yards. That sent his season mark to a 24th-ranked net of 39.9 yards.
“I think just the major thing would be what we call his handle time, from the time he catches the ball to the time it hits his foot, just staying in consistent range,” special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga said during an offseason Zoom call. “That can lead to a lot of things for any punter, not just JK. Any veteran punter, I think that’s the first thing you go back to is you look at their handle times and is there some variance? Which means they’re rushing it, and that can create stride length changes and those kinds of things.”
It’s a problem Scott has to fix. If the Packers are going to be centered on running the football and sound defense, the field-position battle will be critical. Including playoffs, the Packers lost the net punting battle in each of their final eight games.
Why he has a chance: All of those ugly numbers notwithstanding, there have been some positive indicators. For one, according to Pro Football Focus, opponents returned only 33.8 percent of Scott’s punts last season – the fifth-best rate in the league. His hang time of 4.46 seconds ranked sixth. Those are critical numbers that show Scott’s potential. There was improvement, too. As a rookie, Scott had 19 inside-the-20 punts vs. nine touchbacks – one of the worst ratios in the league. He was much better last season with 25 inside-the-20s vs. four touchbacks. He's been excellent on holds.