It’s an Aussie invasion.
The Jets went Down Under to address their punting needs, selecting Australian Lachlan Edwards in the seventh round of the NFL Draft and later signing Melbourne-born Tom Hackett as an undrafted free agent.
Edwards, who is from Hastings and went to Sam Houston State, didn’t hesitate when asked to list his best attributes.
“Probably my hang time,” said the 6-4, 209-pounder. “I’ve got a big spiral and I’ve got long legs, I get good hang time. I’ve been working on my directionals all offseason. They’re one of my strong points now.”
Like Edwards, the 5-10, 198-pound Hackett has experience in Australian Rules football. During his time at Utah, he became only the second man to twice win the Ray Guy Award as the nation’s top punter. He finished second in the FBS with a 47.95-yard gross average in 2015, only 0.05 under the top mark.
Considered the best punter of this year’s bunch, Hackett surprisingly wasn’t drafted. According to NFL.com’s draft profile, scouts were unable to get accurate hang time from the “rugby-style punter.”
Hackett and Edwards will compete for the starting spot formerly held by Ryan Quigley, who signed with the Eagles after the Jets chose not to re-sign him.
“It was amazing to get the call,” said Edwards, the eighth punter ever drafted by the Jets and the first since 1987 (Mike Rice, Montana). Fellow Aussie punter Ben Graham also played for the Jets from 2005-07.
Said Edwards, “They were the main team who kept in contact with me since the NFLPA Bowl . . . I’m super-happy to be with the Jets.”
Edwards, according to NFL.com, has dropped 38.9 percent of his punts inside the 20-yard line. Not bad for a guy who punted an American football for the first time in December 2012.
“That was in Bellarine, Australia,” he recalled. “I was just down in a park with one of my buddies wasting some time and come to find out I wasn’t really wasting time, I guess.”