By BARRY WILNER
AP Pro Football Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Running backs and kickers — kickers? — were a focus in the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday.
Two punters and a placekicker went as the final day of selections began before any more quarterbacks were taken as most of the 32 NFL teams decided to pass on passers in what has been deemed a weak crop. So maybe it shouldn’t be surprising that LSU placekicker Cade York went to Cleveland at No. 124 overall, followed by Penn State punter Jordan Stout six spots later to Baltimore. At No. 133 to Tampa Bay it was punter Jake Camarda of Georgia — four spots before the fifth quarterback in total, Western Kentucky’s Bailey Zappe, headed to New England.
Of course, it can’t be ignored that the Patriots once had some luck with a late-round QB. What was his name?
The philosophy of taking running backs deeper into proceedings is nothing new, and several highly accomplished ball carriers were taken in Round 4. After Tampa Bay made tight end Cade Otton of Washington the leadoff pick — Rob Gronkowski has not publicly committed to return — Houston grabbed RB Dameon Pierce of Florida. From there, the likes of Zamir White of Georgia, Isaiah Spiller of Texas A&M, Pierre Strong, a standout from South Dakota State of the FCS and Hassan Haskins of Michigan went off the board.
Of the 38 fourth-rounders, including compensatory choices, 20 were on offense, 15 on defense, and the three special-teamers.
The fifth round, however, got started with Washington grabbing North Carolina QB Sam Howell, who was projected as a much higher selection just a year ago, but didn’t have an outstanding final season for the Tar Heels.
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