Matt Araiza may have been the most famous punter to the enter the NFL draft in a while, but he apparently wasn't the highest-valued by NFL teams.
The punter out of San Diego State known in many college football circles as "Punt God" wound up being the third punter taken in the 2022 NFL draft. Penn State's Jordan Stout was the first punter off the board to the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round and 130th overall, while Georgia's Jake Camarda went three picks later to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at 133rd overall.
Araiza was selected by the Buffalo Bills with the first pick of the sixth round, 180th overall.
That wasn't exactly the NFL debut many envisioned for Araiza, who was a unanimous All-American and winner of the 2021 Ray Guy Award for college football's top punter. Araiza was a viral sensation last season, frequently providing highlights for the Aztecs like this 86-yard monster:
Here’s new Bills P Matt Araiza with an 86-yard 💣 💣 💣 pic.twitter.com/v9rLgw3Grw
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 30, 2022
If the only thing that mattered in punting was kicking it a long way, Araiza would have almost certainly been first off the board. Alas, the Ravens seemed to like Stout's NFL fit better, and some stats back them up on that.
When meeting with the Bills media for the first time, Araiza indicated he had a bit of a chip on his shoulder over the fact he was the third punter taken:
"The people who know me know that I take a lot of things very personal. We'll just say I have a lot of motivation to dominate this season."
This might be the first time in NFL history a punter has ever taken offense to only being drafted in the sixth round. Fortunately, he's certainly landed on the right team for a player with a chip on his shoulder.
The Bills' starting quarterback was a two-star recruit and widely mocked when Buffalo selected him in the top 10. His top target Stefon Diggs was a fifth-round pick, and left tackle Dion Dawkins had zero Power 5 offers out of high school. The team's lone two All-Pro selections last year were free safety Jordan Poyer, a seventh-round pick, and strong safety Micah Hyde, a fifth-round pick.
Also, fans may want to be aware that as flattered as Araiza is by the "Punt God" nickname, he's not a huge fan of it:
"To be honest, I don't necessarily love the nickname. I understand it's a huge compliment, I think it's a little bit too much."