[BLG Note: In addition to writing about the Eagles for BGN, Alexis Chassen is also an editor at SB Nation’s Ohio State site: Land-Grant Holy Land.]
The Philadelphia Eagles signed punter Cameron (Cam) Johnston out of Ohio State as an undrafted free agent almost immediately after the draft. The punter is an exciting addition, given his penchant for long punts and stuffing opposing teams close to their end zones.
- Height: 5’11
- Weight: 194 lbs
- Arms: 31”
- Hands: 9”
What was his college career like?
Johnston finished the 2016 season as a Ray Guy Award finalist and second-team All-American. Of his 56 punts last season, 26 landed within the 20-yard line and 24 were fair catches. He averaged 46.7 yards per kick in 2016 and ranked No. 2 in college football with 43.9 net yards per kick. He’s also nailed at least one 70-yard punt in three of his four seasons with the Buckeyes.
His performance against Oklahoma in 2016 was one of the more noteworthy games for the punter. He had five punts for 253 yards against the Sooners, and earned some too-early Big Ten Player of the Year praise from Dave Wannstedt.
What are his strengths?
He’s had success training in conventional punting techniques and has eliminated shanks over the past couple seasons and found consistency with his feet placement. In addition to the mechanics of the position, he has good hang time on the ball and a pretty decent fair catch percentage during his time at Ohio State.
He’s fast. Despite being almost completely meaningless, Johnston was invited to the 2017 Scouting Combine and finished as the third fastest special teamer with a 4.92 second 40-yard dash. His burst off the line and/or straight-line speed aren’t exactly the biggest factors when analyzing a punter, but it does display his athleticism — and bodes well for his ability to be the last line of defense on an errant run-back.
What are his weaknesses?
The biggest weakness with this signing is Johnston’s rugby style kicking. He showed during his combine and pro day workouts that despite finding most of his success with the rugby operation in college, his background is in conventional kicking and proved he can be successful at both styles.
Given the fact that the Aussie punter didn’t convert to American football rules until he was 21 years old, it’s surprising that the film that earned him a spot on Ohio State’s roster was actually filled with more conventional, spiral-style punts. Urban Meyer and his staff stepped away from tradition and embraced the rugby way, and Johnston was forced to follow suit — and did so successfully.
Was it a surprise he went undrafted?
It’s not that surprising that a punter didn’t hear his name called during the seven rounds of the NFL draft. Especially after the Buccaneers faced a litany of judgment last season when they took kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round, only to have his rookie season be a scathing indictment on taking kickers with the precious few picks each team gets in the draft.
Johnston likely entertained offers from several teams before inking a deal with the Eagles, and rightfully so after his impressive collegiate resume and offseason workouts.
Anything to know about him off the field?
Johnston is a hard worker who should be a good addition to the Eagles locker room. He’s always willing to help out a teammate or ask for help if someone is doing it better than he is. He won’t likely grab many headlines, which should mean the coaches have one less player to worry about on off-days.