The Lions are in the market for a new punter. If Jason Hanson retires, they will need a new kicker.
Quinn Sharp can do both.
The Oklahoma State standout will punt and kick field goals and kickoffs at the NFL Scouting Combine this week and hopes his versatility makes him appealing in April’s draft.
“Not many guys can do all three and excel like I have,” Sharp said Thursday. “I’ve averaged just over 45 yards for my four years of punting, kicked over 80 percent for my two years of field goals and led the nation all years in touchbacks.”
Sharp was fifth in the FBS in punting in 2012 with a 46.3-yard average and made 28 of 34 field goals last season, with all six misses coming from 40 yards or longer. During his time at Oklahoma State, Sharp earned five first-team All-Big 12 honors, three as a punter (2010-12) and two as a kicker (2011-12).
And he already knows the Lions coaching staff after kicking in the Senior Bowl, albeit for the North team not the Jim Schwartz-led South team. Sharp said he liked new special teams coach John Bonamego a lot.
“He’s very laid back and reserved when you first meet him. He kind of feels you out, you can tell,” Sharp said of Bonamego. “He gave me some great advice at the Senior Bowl on how to handle this process and approach it. I was very thankful for that, definitely helped me out.”
Lions punter Nick Harris is an unrestricted free agent, and after he averaged just 41.5 yards per punt in 2012, it’s unlikely the team will re-sign him. Meanwhile, Hanson, 42, is mulling his retirement again this offseason even though he played well in 2012, making 32 of 36 field goals.
Hanson’s accuracy hasn’t diminished, but his power is on the decline. He averaged 62.3 yards per kickoff in 2012, ranking 30th among kickers with 10 or more starts, according to Pro Football Focus. When the Lions look to replace Harris this offseason, it’d be wise to find someone who can also fill in for Hanson on kickoffs, which Sharp can do.
Sharp expects teams to ask him to become a specialist in the NFL, but his ability to perform all three kicking duties could make him more appealing to the Lions than other punter prospects.