Kansas City Chiefs’ Roster Review: Kicker/Punter
The Kansas City Chiefs’ offseason roster review concludes today with a look at the kicker and punter spots. The links to previous postings at each offensive and defensive position are below. All posts follow the format of first looking at KC’s personnel and then running a comparison with their three AFC West rivals.
Kansas City has issues at punter, where Derek Colquitt was the worst in the division. The coverage team helped make up a little bit of the loss and the Chiefs’ gap on net punt average isn’t as severe as it is on the gross, but either way they’re fourth in the AFC West. Kicking isn’t much better. While Ryan Succop showed the best range of his career in hitting all three attempts from 50-plus, he was only 7-of-12 in the much more critical range of 40-49. The franchise that lost a playoff game almost singlehandedly because of Lin Elliot back in 1995 should understand better than anyone how important these spots are in crucial games.
Denver’s got a similar problem at kicker. Matt Prater’s got a booming leg, and that was never more evident than his dramatic 59-yarder to set up overtime, and ultimately a win, over Chicago. But he’s less than 50 percent in the 40s and a conservative offense like the Broncos’ can’t survive on that. Britton Colquitt does a solid job at punter.
San Diego lost Pro Bowl kicker Nate Kaeding to start the season, but Nick Novak came on and did a credible job. Novak, who hadn’t worked in the NFL since having the KC gig back in 2008, was respectable in the 40s and had some leg in the 50s. He should pick up a job somewhere when Kaeding, who lacks booming 50-plus range, but is lights-out everywhere else, returns to duty next year. Punter Mike Scrifes had a 47.2 gross average, but, unsurprisingly, a Norv Turner-led special teams gives a good chunk of that away on coverage and the Bolts are only third in the AFC West where it counts, in net average.
For years, I’ve wondered why finding a kicker is so hard for NFL and major college teams. Just go to Europe, scour the soccer fields and bring someone back. I don’t know if that’s how Florida State found Sebastian Janikowski in Poland, but it’s had the desired effect. Still going strong with Oakland, Janikowski is a perfect combination of ruthless consistency inside 50 and dynamic range outside it, highlighted by his record-tying 63-yarder. Punter Shane Lechler has the strongest leg in the division, averaging better than 50 yards a pop on the gross, but the opponent does pick up ten yards on the return. While some of that can be attributed to the longer run the coverage team has to make—and Oakland’s gross average is still best in the West, you would still like to see the punt cover team shave a couple yards off those returns.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS ROSTER REVIEW
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