Over the past few months, we’ve been taking an in-depth look at each of the Jets’ rookies. We conclude today with kicker Chris Naggar.
The 23-year old is listed at 5’11” and 193 pounds and was undrafted out of SMU. He was an all-American Athletic Conference first teamer and the AAC special teams player of the year in 2020 after transferring from Texas during the offseason.
Naggar wasn’t a highly sought after high school prospect, but was able to walk on at Texas after securing a place in their engineering program.
However, he didn’t get many opportunities with them. In fact, he never got to attempt a field goal or extra point. After redshirting in 2016, he didn’t get any playing time in 2017 or 2018.
However, in 2019, he at last got a chance to contribute, albeit only as an emergency punter due to injuries. He handled these duties well, because even though his average was low (39.3 yards per punt), he didn’t allow a single return.
Naggar also got a chance to kick off three times and was used as a holder on extra points, but still didn’t get a chance to attempt a field goal or extra point.
At the end of the 2019 season, Naggar opted to transfer to SMU, where they had a bigger need at the kicker position. He ended up punting for them as well.
Naggar made 17 of 21 field goals, including two game-winners, and 43 of 46 extra points. He also registered 45 touchbacks (over 65 percent) and again averaged 39.3 yards on punts.
At the end of the season he was an all-AAC first team selection and the conference special teams player of the year.
Despite being selected for the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the Hula Bowl, Naggar was not selected in the draft and the Jets signed him to an undrafted free agent contract.
Now let’s break down Naggar in more detail, divided into categories:
Although he only has one year as a full-time kicker, Naggar did at least hit the 80 percent benchmark, albeit only just.
However, he began the 2020 season by hitting on his first eight attempts but then only made nine of his last 13 which is slightly less than 70 percent.
Naggar was extremely reliable on short field goals, making 12 out of 12 from inside 40 yards last season.
Despite being reliable on short field goals, Naggar did miss three extra points in 20. He still made 93 percent though, which is solid.
Despite only being a full time kicker for one year, Naggar had to attempt a couple of important kicks and generally fared quite well.
He hit a game winner with less than 10 seconds left to beat Memphis 30-27 and then followed up by kicking the game-winner in a 37-34 overtime win against Tulane in the next game.
That kick in the Tulane game was a pressure kick because he had already missed two field goals that day. One of these was a potential game winner with 21 seconds left, although this was a 57-yard kick.
His most costly miss of the year was probably in the Tulsa game when his 51-yarder would’ve given the team a 27-7 lead midway though the third quarter in the game against Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane scored a touchdown on their next possession and completed the comeback to win 28-24.
One concerning statistic for Naggar is that he never made a 50-yard field goal at the collegiate level. In fact the 51-yarder and the 57-yarder mentioned above were his only attempts from beyond 50.
Each of these did have the distance though. The Tulsa one was just wide and the Tulane one hit the upright.
There is footage online of Naggar nailing 60-plus yards kicks in practice, including a 71-yarder, so he clearly has a big leg, but he hasn’t done this under game conditions.
Spending his entire collegiate career in Texas probably means that Naggar hasn’t experienced cold weather or windy conditions very often. This is another thing that will add to the challenge of him emerging as the Jets’ full-time kicker.
Naggar didn’t have a bad record on kickoffs with his 65 percent touchback rate comparing favorably with the likes of recent Jets kickers Sam Ficken and Chase McLaughlin. However, it’s rare he booms the ball impressively through the end zone or gets great hang time.
Nevertheless, he did a good job of limiting return yardage with no long returns against him last season.
As noted earlier, Naggar also handled punting duties in 2018 and 2019. However, there is no suggestion that he could compete with Braden Mann for this role. It’s useful to know he can do this though, in case he ever got called into emergency duties.
His college numbers suggest Naggar usually just laid the ball up safely without looking for too much distance in order to limit any return yardage. With Texas, none of his 25 punts were returned, however he did allow some returns at SMU, including one 39-yarder.
He seems to have done a solid job as a directional punter which is encouraging to know in the event he ever has to punt in an emergency. He had zero touchbacks in his career and landed this punt inside the five.
His low average suggests he’s not a viable option to compete but the Jets are settled at the punter position anyway with Mann on his rookie deal for three more years. Naggar was prone to shanks at times.
Naggar’s longest punt was this 67-yarder, albeit aided by a lucky bounce. As you can see, he adopted the rugby punt style here rather than the conventional punt technique.
Naggar is about the same size as Ficken, albeit a couple of inches shorter. His 40-time is estimated at 4.95 by NFL Draft Scout so he’s not considered a good athlete and has never contributed on any fakes or made any contributions in kick coverage.
He was penalized twice for delay of game during 2020 - once on a punt and once on a field goal.
He was a good student in high school and completed his degree at Texas, where he was also an honor roll student, before transferring.
Naggar is said to have confidence in his own abilities and was motivated to prove he belonged at the collegiate level, as he will no doubt be at the pro level too.
Naggar’s roster chances were boosted when Ficken, who had some injury issues that may have affected his numbers last season, was released after day three of training camp following a shaky start.
The Jets had been expected to bring in a kicker in the offseason who would be likely to beat Ficken out. However, Naggar was the only competition they added and his body of work doesn’t exactly suggest he’ll definitely hold onto the role. He’ll now compete with the newly-signed Matt Ammendola instead.
Brant Boyer has indicated that he likes some of Naggar’s traits though and he clearly sees potential in him. Boyer has praised his performance so far, but it will be interesting to see if Naggar can start realizing that potential so he wins the job. If not, it’s possible the Jets’ 2021 kicker isn’t on the team yet.