Drew Butler was added to the Cardinals 2014 roster due to a a lingering hamstring issue to Dave Zastudil. Butler was projected to be a short term replacement until Zastudil recovered, where he was to take the reigns once again. That however did not happen, and Zastudil found his way to season ending IR, and Butler had a chance to prove himself. In that season he punted a total of 79 times, for 3328 yards, two of which were blocked, and an average of 42 yards, and a net yardage of 36.
Many fans were disappointed in his performance, primarily due to his inability to deliver consistent hangtime on the ball. In seven of his 16 games played, Butler was unable to average 40 yards a punt, four of which were inside domes. He was known for his horrible punts in the postseason game against the Carolina Panthers that season, in which he only averaged 34.8 yards per punt, which was actually brought up due to a 52 yard punt in that game.
Many believed he was done following 2014. However, in 2015, due to Zastudils injury history, and Butler's work with Chandler Catanzaro in 2014, Butler was able to retain the job, and had yet another chance to prove fans wrong. He was better in 2015, dropping his punts from 79, to 60 (Due of course to such an electric offense), and averaged 43 yards per punt with a net average if 36. He went from next to last in punt average in 2014, to fourth last. He also dropped his blocks from two, to one, which can be attributed to his work with Amos Jones to shorten his windup. However, Butler's kicks inside the 20 dropped form 34 (tops in 2014) to a mere 22 (middle of the pack) in 2015.
He was able to backup his "bounce back" season with a solid outing in the postseason, averaging 49 yards a punt, with a 43.4 net average. He also downed three inside the twenty.
Bruce Arians was proud of the improvements his punter made, and got a two year deal done to keep him in the Desert. Shortly after the draft however, the team signed UDFA Garrett Swanson out of Fresno State. When I initially saw the signing, I was hoping it was to challenge Drew Butler. But after researching the kid, I realized he was likely an offseason leg.
But a few months have passed since then, and I have a renewed hope that perhaps Swanson is here to challenge for the job. In college, Swanson was a three year starter for the Bulldogs. He averaged 42 yards a punt in his three seasons, and amassed a total of 8000 yards in those three years. Watching some clips on his college career, he has a leg. One instance had him punt from the 10 yard line, and he managed to get the returner to start his return from the 25 yard line. Another saw him punt from five deep in his own endzone, and the returner was only able to get to their own 36 before he was swarmed by Bulldogs. He consistently had good to decent hang time, and that can be developed as he progresses through the NFL. One knock I had against him was his inconsistency for following through kicks, which had him going undrafted on many Scouting Reports this past Draft season, which once again, you can work on as you develop in the NFL.
Perhaps it's just wishful thinking, or perhaps I just hope we can find a Punter that can deliver a good hang time on a consistent basis. I know it's an unlikely scenario, especially with Butler's history with Catanzaro, but it's a scenario nonetheless.
What about you? Would you like to see a changing of the guard at Punter? With a new long snapper to be determined for the 2016 season, can a new Punter grace us in 2016?