The 2023 NFL Draft will not follow in the footsteps of the last two, thanks to a deal between division rivals.
The Patriots traded up with the Jets on Saturday, spending their newly acquired pick (No. 112) on Maryland kicker Chad Ryland. New England sent pick Nos. 120 and 184 to New York to jump up and take the Terrapins boot, creating an interesting storyline to track alongside these teams' pair of annual meetings. Not done addressing their kicking needs, the Patriots became the first team of the 2023 draft to select a punter when they chose Michigan State's Bryce Baringer in the sixth round with the 192nd pick.
This stands as the first instance since 2000 in which a team has selected a kicker and a punter in the same draft. The Raiders drafted Sebastian Janikowski (first round, No. 17 pick) and punter Shane Lechler (fifth, 142), per NFL Research. Those are the only two times since the draft moved to seven rounds in 1994 that a club has picked a kicker and punter in the same draft.
Ryland built himself into an NFL kicker with hard work and persistence, going from a walk-on at Eastern Michigan -- where he spent four of his five collegiate seasons -- to a second-team All-Big Ten selection in his first and only season at Maryland in 2022. He left EMU as the second-best kicker in program history, thanks to his 56 made field goals, and he converted 16 of 20 attempts (including a long of 53 yards) with the Terrapins in 2022.
He'll join a Patriots team that began to realize it might need a solution at kicker when veteran Nick Folk -- owner of an incredible record-setting streak of 57 made field goals inside 50 yards -- left a 48-yard attempt short against Buffalo in December, then went 0 for 2 on extra points against Cincinnati in windy conditions later that month. With Ryland now in the fold, the 38-year-old Folk will presumably have to battle to keep his job in New England in 2023.
With their selection of Baringer, the Football Bowl Subdivision's leading punter (in terms of yards per punt) and the Big Ten's 2022 Punter of the Year, New England brought in competition for both specialist positions. He'll be expected to push Corliss Waitman for the starting job.