New Punter Zoltan Mesko Punches Up Patriots’ Punting Unit for 2010-2011

New Punter Zoltan Mesko Punches Up Patriots' Punting Unit for 2010-2011 Statistically, Chris Hanson was the worst punter in the NFL last season, so the Patriots let him go and drafted a new one. Can rookie Zoltan Mesko add some life to the punting unit?

In terms of liveliness, Mesko is as interesting as they come, so he'll undoubtedly add some character to the locker room. But, obviously, that's not the real purpose of this question.

In 2009, the Patriots ranked last in the NFL in gross punting average (39.7 yards) and net punting average (36.4). To give a little perspective, both averages were at least 10 yards worse than the league-leading Raiders, and Hanson handled all 56 of New England's punts last season.

Obviously, the weather in the Northeast isn't always ideal for punting, but the Patriots only played in one game with miserable conditions last season (Week 6 against Tennessee), and Hanson had just one punt that afternoon. Besides, the Patriots aren't the only team that is subject to adverse weather.

And even further, Hanson's gross punting average dropped by 4.3 yards from 2008, and his net punting average dropped by 4.4 yards. Both stats ranked in the top half of the league in 2008.

Enter Mesko, the punter in a linebacker's body. The 6-foot-5, 231-pounder averaged 42.5 yards per punt over the course of four seasons at Michigan, with 76 of his 243 punts (31.3 percent) landing inside the 20-yard line and 58 punts (23.9 percent) going for at least 50 yards.

The lefty was towering the ball during New England's spring practices, nearly knocking the sun out of the sky on a handful of occasions. It validated the fifth-round draft choice the Patriots used to acquire Mesko, who will be a big-time upgrade to their special teams unit next season.

NESN.com will answer one Patriots question each day until July 24.

Friday, July 16: What can the Patriots expect from Jerod Mayo?

Sunday, July 18: Who will emerge as the Patriots' most dynamic kick returner?

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