Oscar Draguicevich III wasn’t selected in the NFL draft, but Washington State’s standout punter may have had a hunch he’d get an opportunity to play professional football anyway.
Within an hour of the draft ended, Draguicevich III was posing for photos on Instagram with a Carolina Panthers cap and the Cougars’ career leader in punting average later confirmed he’d agreed to an undrafted free agent deal with the NFC South organization.
The demand for punters in the draft was low, with none being taken through the first six rounds and just one – former Ray Guy Award winner Pressley Harvin III, of Georgia Tech – going late in the seventh. Only eight total punters had been taken in the prior three drafts, so Draguicevich III’s most likely path to the NFL was always through free agency.
According to Eric Edholm of Yahoo! Sports, Draguicevich III will receive a signing bonus of $7,000.
The Hutto, Texas, native who transferred to WSU from Incarnate Word may have a decent shot of sticking with Carolina, which lists just one punter on its current roster. The team’s lone punter, Joseph Charlton, is a local product who played at South Carolina before signing with the Panthers as an UDFA last July.
Both Charlton’s punting average (46.3 yards per punt) and number of punts inside the 20-yard line (21) ranked No. 16 in the NFL last season. Playing in just four games last year, Draguicevich III managed a punting average of 46.7 yards per punt and stuck eight punts inside the 20-yard line.
Carolina used the draft to address multiple special teams needs. The Panthers picked up a punter in free agency after taking a long snapper, Alabama’s Thomas Fletcher, in the sixth round of the Draft.
Draguicevich III opted not to use his final year of college eligibility and left WSU as the school’s all-time leader in punting average, at 45.7 yards per punt. He was twice named to the Ray Guy Award’s presesason watch list and earned All-Pac-12 Second Team honors from the conference’s coaches, the Associated Press and Phil Steele.