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Charlotte Observer’s top specialists in the 2013 NFL draft

*Rd. is projected round taken

Player Pos. School Ht./Wt. Rd.* Comment
1. Jeff Locke PUCLA 6-1, 209 3-4Scouts think the left-footer is as good as Bryan Anger, Jacksonville’s third-round pick last year.
2. Dustin Hopkins KFlorida State 6-2, 193 6-7Hit 25 of 30 field goals, with a long of 56 yards, as a senior.
3. Quinn Sharp K/POklahoma State 6-1, 189 6-7Can handle all three phases in the kicking game.
4. Caleb Sturgis KFlorida 5-10, 188 7Missed four field goals last season, three of which were blocked.
5. Brett Maher KNebraska 6-0, 186 7-UFALatest Cornhuskers specialist who should be kicking on Sundays.

Panthers perspective: Carolina used a sixth-round pick last year on punter Brad Nortman, who had an up-and-down rookie season. The Panthers will stick with Nortman, but want to see more consistency. The Panthers have cycled through three kickers since cutting John Kasay. The job is Graham Gano’s until it’s not.

Local connections: UNC kicker Casey Barth has the bloodlines. Older brother Connor is Tampa Bay’s kicker. Casey finished with a school-record 62 field goals after hitting 15 of 18 as a senior. He’s a longshot to get drafted, but should end up in someone’s camp.

Sleeper: Appalachian State punter Sam Martin is drawing interest from at least one team as a possible late-round pick or undrafted free agent. Martin, a former soccer player who played one season of high school football in Georgia, had a pre-draft visit with Detroit following the Mountaineers’ pro day.

Worth noting: LSU punter Brad Wing, who grew up playing Australian Rules Football in Melbourne, left school early after averaging 44.6 yards a punt in two seasons at LSU. Wing, who was ineligible for the Chick-fil-A Bowl after failing a drug test, is the son of David Wing, who punted for the Lions and in NFL Europe.

Joseph Person

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