Scottish Hammer adds spice to Cleveland Browns special teams competition

MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Jamie Gillan #42 of the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions kicks a field goal during the second half against the FIU Golden Panthers at Ricardo Silva Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 29: Jamie Gillan #42 of the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions kicks a field goal during the second half against the FIU Golden Panthers at Ricardo Silva Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

The Scottish Hammer, a.k.a Jamie Gillan, is a converted rugby player who is challenging Cleveland Browns punter Britton Colquitt for his job.

Your Cleveland Browns have signed the Scottish Hammer, a.ka. Jamie Gillan, a converted rugby player from the British Isles who learned how to kick footballs for prodigious distances. The canny lad will challenge veteran punter Britton Colquitt to be the first string punter for the Browns.

Gillan was born in England and grew up in Scotland and was dubbed the Scottish Hammer by his Coach, Cedrid Thomas of the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Golden Lions, in the Southwest Athletic Conference.

So who is this fellow? Fortunately, we have Browns superfan Paul Brown (not related to the Coach) who was able to provide an interview with Gillan on The Paul Brown Podcast Episode 267, dated April 30, 2019. Gillan says he likes kicking off and punting because he likes running downfield and mixing it up a bit.

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Phil Dawson comes to mind as another kicker who used to think of himself as an extra defensive back on special teams and endeared himself to Cleveland fans forever. Gillan is said to like aggressively pursuing the returner just like one of the regular special teams players.

He was both the field goal kicker and the punter at Arkansas-Pine Bluff and averaged 43.4 yards per punt last year which included an 80-yarder. He can also dropkick and kick on the run, rugby style. Arkansas-Pine Bluff often had him run to one sideline or the other. That allows his teammates to flood the side of the field that he chooses and forces the return team to alter its approach to the return.

Gillan was also given the option to keep the ball and run up the sideline if it was open.  If the coverage team doesn’t stand its ground, a rugby punter can run for the first down. Gillan rushed the ball five times in college for 52 yards. That’s a huge threat, to be able to steal a possession or two per season. That is certainly true in college, but the big question is whether it can be true at the NFL level with the right kicker.

The rugby style punt has been effective at the college level, but so far the NFL has not adopted it to the same extent as college.

Because of the rugby style punt, probably it’s a mistake to fixate on the stats for the Scottish Hammer or any rugby-style kicker. Rather, the scouts need to evaluate his performance both in the conventional style (distance, hang time, the time it takes to get the kick off, etc) as well as the rugby style. So let us not go too crazy about “only” 43.4 yards per punt. How will he do in the NFL style?

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What makes him a legend, in addition to being a converted rugby player, is that according to Tom Peliserio of NFL Network, he bought four footballs while preparing for the NFL draft, and exploded all four of them. He’s got a strong enough leg that it is worth it to see what an NFL coaching staff can do for him.

It does seem like a very Cleveland Browns style kicker who can run, tackle and throw, and anyone who can explode a football should be okay to us fans. However, he has his work cut out for him, as incumbent Browns punter Britton Colquitt is not exactly a slouch.

Last year, he was a Pro Bowl alternate, and averaged 45.4 yards per kick, which is more than Gillan had in college. If there is a hole in Colquitt’s game, it is the three blocked punts in the past two years, after having only one blocked in his first seven seasons in the NFL.

The coaching staff is going to have to think through whether the rugby style punt might offer a better chance to avoid blocks or even get first downs using the punter option. Or will it be killed by off-sides and illegal receiver penalties?

The Scottish Hammer is the type of pick that a thoughtful human scout might identify, whereas prior Browns front office teams might have been more impressed by big statistics and distance in college. You would never select this guy based on his stats alone, but after realizing how he has been used in college, he has a shot to be a very fine player and he may, in fact, achieve better distance and hang time in the NFL than he did in college.

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It will be very interesting to see how he performs in the exhibition season.  Can the Scottish Hammer become a special player for the Browns?