Has a good strong leg that flashes the ability to kick his team out of trouble, when backed up in their own territory. Consistently gets good hangtime on his punts. Is able to force the fair catch and work field position. Does a nice job getting hangtime on the short field to allow his coverage units to get downfield and pin the team inside the five. Flashes some directional kicking ability, able to angle the ball towards the sideline. Experienced working in the elements from his days in Wisconsin. Works as a holder.
Doesn't have the booming leg to consistently kick his team out of trouble when backed up deep. Needs more work with his directional kicking as he doesn't quite know how to work the sideline. Doesn't have kickoff experience.
Nortman is a solid and consistent college punter that is fairly NFL ready. He doesn't have the sort of upside to be one of the league's premier punters but he is more than capable of being a solid guy that can have a long, productive NFL career. His best asset is his ability to consistently get hangtime on his punts and be able to force fair catches and work field position. He's not a guy going to be a guy that dramatically shifts field position, but he can affect it. He might be most infamous for his dramatic flop in the Big Ten Championship game this past year, which drew a penalty and effectively sealed the win for Wisconsin. He was their punter all four years.
2011 GAMES WATCHED:
(9/1) vs. UNLV: 2 punts, 45.0 avg, 51 long, 2 fair catches, 4.30 avg. hangtime
(10/1) vs. Nebraska: 2 punts, 41.5 avg, 42 long, 1 FC, 4.21 avg. hangtime
(12/3) vs. Michigan St: 6 punts, 44.3 avg, 54 long, 3 FCs, 4.35 avg. hangtime
(1/2) vs. Oregon: 2 punts, 44.5 avg, 56 long, 0 FCs, 4.51 avg. hangtime
2011: 14 GP, 46 punts, 1943 yds, 42.2 avg, 74 long, 3 TBs, 17 FC, 19 In20, 1 blocked
The player Nortman sort of reminds me of is Steve Weatherford. Weatherford was a journeyman as he came into the league, and struggled a bit early with his consistency. Like Weatherford, Nortman doesn't have a booming leg. It's solid, but not great. But what Weatherford has improved upon over the years is his ability to pin teams back. Similar to a player like Michael Koenen, the strength of Nortman's game won't be his leg strength, but his ability to prevent returns. I think he is ready to play at the NFL level now, but I'm not sure he's going to be good right away. Like Weatherford, it may take him the better part of three or four years before he really starts to find his stride. Nortman is the type of guy that won't have a huge average per punt, but the gap between his gross average and his net shouldn't be too huge, which is typically a sign of a guy that is a good directional kicker. That aspect of Nortman's game will need to be developed, and it may take him a few years. So like Weatherford, he may not find a permanent home for the first few years of his career. If a team were to draft him, I'm not convinced he would last until his rookie contract expired before the team tried to bring in someone better. Or if he did, he probably wouldn't be re-signed to a long-term deal as a free agent. But potentially for the team that signs him afterwards might reap the benefits of those early years of growing pains and development. He'll probably never be an elite punter, but he can consistently be above average most years.
Steve Weatherford, Giants.
Nortman would work well in Atlanta because like Koenen he's a guy that can force a lot of fair catches and help work field position that way. But he doesn't have the sort of leg strength that Bosher has quite, and also can't kick off which means that the Falcons would be forced to replace Bryant with a stronger-legged kicker that can pull double duty or carry a third specialist. Nortman wouldn't be much of a challenge for Bosher to fend off, but could be a nice leg in camp that could be a nice emergency replacement in the event of Bosher's regression or injury.
Nortman is not really worth a draft pick because of his potential that he won't reach his full potential until four or five years from now, coupled with the fact that he has the upside to be an elite punter. If he could kick off, he might merit looks late in the seventh round, but currently would be a reach for a team truly desperate for a punter. Instead he should be a priority free agent for any team looking for a guy that can compete and potentially win an open competition.
1-pathetic, 2-poor, 3-weak, 4-below average, 5-average, 6-above average, 7-good, 8-very good, 9-excellent, 10-elite
Leg Strength: 6.5
Directional Kicking: 6.0
Clutch Kicking: 6.0
Scouting reports of the kickers, punters, and long snappers in the 2012 Draft.
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