Last month, the Jets announced a series of futures signings and we've been looking at each player's strengths and weaknesses. We continue today with a look at punter Ben Turk.
The 27-year old Turk is listed at 5'11" and 186 pounds and has never been on a roster for a pro team. He went undrafted out of Notre Dame in 2013 and was invited to rookie camp for the Houston Texans but not signed. Turk's uncle, Matt, was a three-time pro-bowler who was the punter for the AFC East division champion 2002 Jets.
After a solid high school career, Turk ended up at Notre Dame, winning the punter job halfway through his freshman season and punting in six games. He served as the team's punter for each of the next three seasons.
Turk improved his average in each season, but his career-high as a senior was just 40.8 yards per punt and he averaged less than 40 over the course of his career.
Let's move onto some more in-depth analysis of what Turk brings to the table, based on in-depth research and film study.
Turk is much smaller than current Jets punter Lachlan Edwards, but he's a pretty good athlete for a punter. At his pro day, Turk ran a 4.8 40-yard dash and had a 32" vertical jump. He also did 26 bench press reps.
Turk's raw numbers are not particularly impressive. A gross average of less than 40 does not compare favorably to Edwards, whose career average in college was 43.6 yards per punt.
He also only had two punts of over 55 yards in his entire career. The only punter in the NFL last year with a shorter longest punt than Turk's career best 58-yarder was Ryan Quigley.
Hang time can be an issue, as in this example where he had a line drive punt returned for a crucial touchdown in a game where Tulsa upset the Fighting Irish by one point:
However, there is a recent video online of him regularly putting up deep punts with good hang time in practice.
Some of Turk's directional punting numbers aren't bad. In fact, only 20% of his punts were returned in his sophomore season, a rate that would have led the NFL in 2017.
He only had two touchbacks in his senior year, which again was fewer than every NFL punter this season apart from Quigley. However, he had a low percentage of his punts in his last two years downed inside the 20.
Turk also served as the team's holder on field goal attempts. He had one rush for a 16-yard loss in his career, presumably on a botched snap, but never had a kick blocked. He had one tackle in his career.
Despite basically being out of football for five years, Turk has been trying to get a shot for some time and has been dedicating himself to his craft by training with some former NFL kickers and punters.
He obviously has a good mentor in his uncle Matt and Matt's late brother, Dan, also played in the NFL.
A common theme when looking back on Turk's time in Notre Dame was that he was often inconsistent in games, but his coaches insisted he was impressive in practice. He obviously was good enough in his workout to warrant a second look.
Turk was basically a mediocre college punter, ranked as the 19th best prospect back in 2013, and no team has shown much interest in him. Can he really be expected to push Edwards for a role, then?
The answer is no ... and that's kind of the point.
The Jets are obviously happy with Edwards after he made big strides in 2017. They need a "camp leg" so they have someone else to work with the return men and to fill in for Edwards if he needs a rest or suffers an injury. In the event of an Edwards slump or injury, they'd bring in more competition.
It's therefore not a particularly desirable job for a punter trying to get an NFL job but ideal for a player like Turk who will appreciate the opportunity just to be on an NFL roster and will do his job without an expectation of a fair shot.
There's a connection with Mike Maccagnan who was with the Texans when they signed Matt Turk in 2007, brought him back in 2011 and gave Ben his shot in 2013, so this gives him some idea of whether Turk would be suitable in a role like this.
Turk can hopefully share some punting tips with the more-talented Edwards and if he makes the most of his opportunity, perhaps he'll earn himself a real shot at an NFL job within the next few years.