Kickoff Rules Don’t Alter Return Value

The importance Joe Hortiz puts on prospects with return ability hasn’t diminished.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Monday, April 4th, 2011 at 11:25 am | Categories: 2011 NFL Draft, Ryan Mink

For Ravens opponents, there will likely be few opportunities for kickoff returns now that Billy Cundiff will have a five yard boost.
But not every team has such an advantage.
It’s unknown just how big an impact the recent kickoff rule changes will have, but one thing is certain. There still will be many kickoffs returned over the course of a full season.
For that reason, the value Ravens Director of College Scouting Joe Hortiz puts on prospects with return ability hasn’t diminished.
“From my perspective, if a guy can return kicks, he can return kicks,” Hortiz said. “They’re still going to get chances.
“Not everyone puts it into the end zone. There are guys that kick it to the 10-yard line. Whoever is back there, whether it’s David [Reed] or anyone else, is going to be getting returns. I think return value is still important.”
Hortiz pointed out that returners will likely get more returns when it matters most, in cold December and January months when teams are battling for playoff spots or in the postseason. The ball doesn’t travel as far in the cold and even Cundiff saw his touchbacks diminish then.
“To say it’s not going to be as important [I don't agree with],” Hortiz said. “To me, it’s going to be most important when the opportunities are most prevalent.”
Reed finished the year as the NFL’s regular-season leader in average yards per kickoff return as a rookie and would seem to have an inside chance at maintaining that role. But the Ravens always look for players with return ability, both on kickoffs and punts.
Two wide receivers linked to the Ravens in mock drafts – Maryland’s Torrey Smith and Kentucky’s Randall Cobb – have return skills.

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