After addressing the offensive side of the ball with three straight selections (Luke Goedeke, Rachaad White and Cade Otton) in the 2022 NFL Draft, it seemed like the Buccaneers might go back to the defense with their second pick in the fourth round. However, that wasn’t the case. They didn’t even stick with their run on offensive players. Instead, they went the special teams route.
With the No. 133 pick—currently the team’s last selection until No. 248 in the seventh round—Tampa Bay drafted Georgia punter Jake Camarda. Here, we have three things you need to know about the fifth member of the Bucs’ 2022 draft class.
Camarda has a BIG leg, which serves him in the punt game and as a kickoff specialist
Punters aren’t going in the fourth round of the NFL Draft unless they have some strength behind their leg, and Camarda is no exception. As a senior at Norcross High School in 2017, he made four field goals from 50-plus yards and averaged 46.2 yards per punt (with a long of 65 yards). That earned him a five-star rating as both a kicker and punter, which he turned into a place with the nearby Georgia Bulldogs. He chose to attend Georgia over Alabama, Kentucky, Syracuse, Rutgers and FIU, and it certainly paid off.
#UGA commit Jake Camarda was in full #beastmode last weekend.— Kohl's Kicking Camps (@KohlsKicking) September 21, 2017
➡️ 55 & 50-yd field goals
➡️ 52-yd punt AVG
➡️ KO from 20-yd-line pinned at 5 pic.twitter.com/SGMXLVP2uS
Camarda left Athens as Georgia’s all-time leader in yards per punt (45.7), having booted multiple punts of 60-plus yards in each of his four seasons with the Bulldogs. As a freshman in 2018, he had punts of 63, 60 and 62 yards. In 2019, he put up six more, with the longest going for 67 yards and being downed at the Auburn 2-yard line. It was more of the same in 2020 before a First Team All-SEC season in 2021. He set a new career long with a 68-yard punt in the SEC Championship Game against Alabama and although Georgia lost, it got the last laugh in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
Camarda’s leg didn’t only make him a primetime college punter—he also worked as a phenomenal kickoff specialist. In 2020, he had just three of his 41 kickoffs returned. Then, in 2021, he kicked off 102 times, with 71 going for touchbacks and 16 more going for fair catches. Given that Camarda was drafted in the fourth round, that will spell the end for Bradley Pinion in Tampa. It’s obvious that the former Georgia Bulldog’s ability to both punt and serve as the kickoff specialist was key in making this move. Maybe the Bucs liked his 40-yard dash time at the NFL Scouting Combine, too.
Bomb squad to the BAY‼️— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) April 30, 2022
Congratulations @jakecamarda!#NFLDraft | #GoDawgs pic.twitter.com/U7kvF9PdGN
Camarda is the third specialist drafted by Jason Licht since 2016
Tampa Bay fans are unsurprisingly pretty upset with Jason Licht selecting Camarda in the fourth round on Saturday afternoon. Of course, this move isn’t all that big of a shock given Licht’s history. He has now picked three specialists since 2016, having done so every three years. The first was Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round of 2016. Three years later, Licht picked Utah kicker Matt Gay in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Now, in 2022, it’s Camarda.
Obviously, everyone is hoping that the latest of those three picks by Licht will be the first one to pan out as expected. Aguayo made just 71% of his field goal attempts as a rookie before being cut in 2017. Gay wasn’t much better as a rookie, hitting on just 77% of his field goals before being let go prior to the 2020 season. He has since found a home with the Rams and just made the Pro Bowl in Los Angeles’ Super Bowl season, but no one will chalk him up as a hit in Tampa—and rightfully so.
So, all of that aside, there’s plenty of reason to believe that Camarda will find a home in Tampa—and stick there. Georgia head coach recently called him “one of the most elite guys to probably ever play college football” when discussing his team looking to find a replacement kickoff specialist heading into this fall. Not to mention, NFL legend and punting expert Pat McAfee is clearly a fan of Camarda’s.
This Georgia punt team is fun to watch.. Camarda’s a stud #ForTheBrand— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) September 5, 2021
LET’S GOOOOOOO— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) April 30, 2022
First time I watched cuzzie Jake (can’t find his Twitter) I said “oh… that dude has a Sunday leg”
He’s gonna do his thing in Tampa https://t.co/lvHwStWysI
Get ready for plenty of McAfee’s patented “#ForTheBrand” tweets when Camarda takes the field for the Bucs this fall.
Camarda LOVES golf
As much as Camarda will have to do football-wise once he gets down to Tampa, finding good spots to golf might be near the top of his priority list. He is an avid golfer and fan, and during his time at Georgia, Camarda often wanted to talk about it during his time with the media.
OK, but seriously, enough of the golf talk. Here's some insight on quarterback Stetson Bennett from Jake Camarda:— Seth Emerson (@SethWEmerson) September 28, 2020
"Stetson is annoyingly good at golf."
He’s even drawn comparisons between golf and punting on more than one occasion. After a rough showing against Florida in 2020, he planned to channel his inner Tiger Woods and rebound the following week.
Jake Camarda was asked about his two botched punts that led to 10 points against Florida...— Lance McCurley (@lancemccurley) November 18, 2020
...he responded and compared Tiger Woods' bounce back at The Masters this past weekend to what he can do against Miss State on Saturday.
Honestly, the man just talks about golf all the time. In a chat with John Frierson of GeorgiaDogs.com in October of 2020, he constantly turned the conversation back to the golf course. No, really, when Frierson asked him if he has a creative side, he had this to say:
“I can’t say I have a creative side. I love to play golf, but that’s not really creative.”
Welcome to Tampa Bay, P Jake Camarda! #LetsGo | #GoBucs pic.twitter.com/OtVh5HCACh— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) April 30, 2022
So, there you have it, Bucs Nation. The team’s second fourth-round pick is Georgia punter Jake Camarda. You can find him on Instagram @jake_camarda. Be sure to congratulate him, welcome him to Tampa Bay and recommend some good golf courses he can check out in the area.