The Buffalo Bills were praised for selecting a much-needed cornerback in Round 1 and getting “a steal” in Round 5 with wide receiver Khalil Shakir, but the move that drew the strongest reaction was the selection of Matt Araiza, a.k.a, “The Punt God,” with their No. 180 pick.
Back in October, the San Diego State alum, who calls his favorite punt a “moonshot,” sent the ball 81 yards in the air during a game against the Air Force Falcons in Colorado Springs, and that monster kick came a week after he punted for 86 yards against San Jose State.
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While Sirius XM host Pat McAfee called Araiza’s insane kick a “piss missile,” the nickname of “The Punt God” stuck.
Araiza finished the 2021 season averaging 51.19 yards per punt, which broke the NCAA record. The Ray Guy Award winner, which is presented to the nation’s best punter, finished last season with 79 punts and 4,044 punt yards, per Bills Wire.
After Araiza was drafted on Saturday, April 30, Bills fans and analysts shared their unbridled excitement on Twitter, as did “The Punt God” himself. Already proving he will be a perfect fit in Buffalo, Araiza tweeted, “SOMEONE GET ME A TABLE!!”
Araiza is the first punter to get drafted by the Bills since 1990, however, he was the third punter selected in the 2022 NFL Draft. Araiza said afterward that getting drafted by Buffalo, a team that already looks Super Bowl-bound, was a dream come true.
“That was very high on my list in qualities out of the team I went to,” he said, as reported by WKBW. “We had a winning culture at San Diego State and I’m glad to be joining another team with a winning culture.”
Araiza ‘Doesn’t Love’ Being Nicknamed ‘The Punt God’
While most athletes would love being called “The God” of their position, Araiza thinks it’s too much. “Araiza says if he’s being honest he doesn’t love the nickname ‘The Punt God,'” Syracuse.com’s Matt Parrino tweeted. “He says it’s a little much but he gets it.”
In an interview with Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Johnson, Araiza credited his soccer training as a kid for helping develop his powerful kicks:
Growing up playing soccer I was always a couple years ahead of everyone. When I was U-10 I could kick the ball like I was U-12. Then in high school, when I went out for the freshman team I wasn’t necessarily planning on doing it to just kick and punt; I was doing it to play football in general. I think my first-ever kickoff ever was a touchback, and the coaches kinda lost it at that. Just hearing the way they were talking about it made me feel like, O.K., I don’t think that many people can do this.
Despite the nickname, Araiza is humbled to be heading into the NFL, and ready to get used to kicking in much colder temperatures than he played in at San Diego State.
“I think leg strength and athleticism are two things that help in those conditions and those are two things I pride myself in and will work on,” he said. “I’m not a complete player yet, but I’m excited to get in the building and work with the coaches and the players.”
Do the Bills Really Need ‘The Punt God’?
While the excitement for one of the nation’s top punters to be heading to Buffalo was palpable, numerous reporters, such as NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, couldn’t help but point out that the Bills rarely punt.
FanSided senior editor Patrick Schmidt joked, “Bills fans are gonna love PUNT GOD (if they ever have to punt because Josh Allen is winning the MVP after scoring 52 TD).”
NFL analyst Warren Sharp tweeted, “The team with the LOWEST percentage of drives ending in punts the last two years…the Bills… just drafted the punt god.”