Blog Entry

Positional rankings: punters

Posted on: July 5, 2010 9:43 am
Edited on: July 5, 2010 10:29 am
Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, this time taking a look at the top five punters in the NFL.

Andy Benoit's top five
S. Lechler (Getty)
5. Mike Scifres, Chargers

4. Donnie Jones, Rams

3. Brian Moorman, Bills

2. Andy Lee, 49ers

1. Shane Lechler, Raiders

Josh, you may not have agreed with all of my top five safeties, cornerbacks and outside linebackers, but just know, I’ll be damned if I’m going to have anyone refute my top five punters list.

I’ll never forget Mike Scifres’ performance against the Colts in the 2008 wild card game: six punts attempted, six punts left inside the 20. And with a 52.7 average, no less. Just because of that game, Scifres will make my top five punters list for all eternity.

I wouldn’t recognize Donnie Jones if he walked up and kicked me in the shins, but I seem to notice his name near the top of the punting charts every time I check the stats (that’s right, I check punting stats …).

Brian Moorman is known for fake punts, which overshadows his actual punts. Those actually punts are among the best in the league – especially when considering Moorman’s kicking in the gales of Ralph Wilson Stadium. Andy Lee is a poor man’s Shane Lechler, which is a compliment, because Lechler is hands down the best punter of his generation.

Josh Katzowitz's top five

5. Dave Zastudil, Browns

4. Dustin Colquitt, Chiefs

3. Donnie Jones, Rams

2. Andy Lee, 49ers

1. Shane Lechler, Raiders

I was actually hoping there was some sort of clause where I could insert Ray Guy – a man who should be in the HOF – into my top five list. Which leads me to my favorite punting factoid ever. Former Falcons punter Chris Mohr, a 15-year veteran, is not even the best punter to ever emerge from tiny Thomson, Ga. (population 6,800). That, of course, would be Guy.

Anyway, if there’s anything the Raiders have done right, it’s to shore up their kicking game. Lechler and K Sebastian Janikowski are the top tandem in the league. There’s really not much use in arguing for or against Lechler. He’d probably be the unanimous pick of everyone who follows the league.

It’s hard to disagree with Lee as your No. 2. He’s been one of the most consistent punters in the last three years. He dropped 30 inside the 20-yard line last year, and it’s no fluke. In 2007, he recorded 42. I agree with Jones, and I was going to send him to your house to kick your shins. Except I don’t know what he looks like either. Colquitt also has been consistent during his five-year career, and last year, he recorded 41 punts inside the 20 with only six touchbacks. That’s outstanding. But you know what I love the most about this list? The more terrible the team, the better the punter. The combined 2009 record of my top five? A staggering 23-57. That’s only slightly worse than Andy’s 3-4 OLB list.

Andy’s rebuttal

How good of a punter do you think your boy Manny Lawson would be?

Josh’s final word

At this point, I think it would be a robbery if Lawson wasn’t named the league’s MVP. Unanimously. Before the season began.

(Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker )

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 17, 2011 9:54 am
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Since: Nov 7, 2008
Posted on: July 8, 2010 12:57 am

Positional rankings: punters

a debate over punters.  I love it.  Joking aside, stats don't tell the true worth of a punter.   A punter for a good team, say the Colts, is not usually punting in high stress environments like inside his 10.  Whereas a punter, say for the Raiders, is constantly having to work from deep on his own side of the field.  
Also, who you are punting to also matters.  In Hester's prime, a punter did his job by getting off a 35-40 yard punt that went out of bounds.  Not good for the stats, but good for the team.
I think with the sad state of the Raiders, Lechler has proven that he by far should be at the top of the list.

Since: Mar 4, 2008
Posted on: July 7, 2010 7:13 pm

Positional rankings: punters

Again, when looking at the numbers, you have to keep in mind that a punter on a bad offensive team won't have a lot of punts inside the 20.  It is not necessarily related to the punter.  You can't drop one inside the 5 from your 5.  (Well, maybe Lechler can, but its unlikely to happen often).  I maintain Shane Lechler is the guy, even though JaMarcus kept him from having an opportunity to pin the other team deep very often.  Stay off the purple drank! 

Since: Jul 2, 2010
Posted on: July 7, 2010 11:21 am

Where's Mat McBriar?

Mat McBriar Stats:

Total Punts = 72
Average = 45.1 
Inside 20 = 30
Inside 10 = 7

Shane Lechler Stats:

Total Punts = 96
Average = 51.1
Inside 20 = 30
Inside 10 = 8

Andy Lee Stats:

Total Punts = 99
Average = 47.6
Inside 20 = 30
Inside 10 = 8

If you go by number of punts, McBriar gets the ball inside the 20 51% of the time.
Shane Lechler only gets the ball inside the 20 40% of the time.
Andy Lee only gets the ball inside the 20 38% of the time.

And McBriar isn't even in the top 5? Really? That is ridiculous. The most important stats are balls downed inside the 20 and inside the 10 yard lines. Average is meaningless because a lot of the time, if you are booting a ball 50+ yards, you are allowing a return guy to get a large return due to a short hangtime. McBriar is one of the best and getting good distance and excellent hangtime.

Since: Jul 6, 2010
Posted on: July 6, 2010 8:28 pm

Positional rankings: punters

shane lechler has the strongest leg in the league and andy lee is a close second. however crafty punters who specialize in situation punting are mike scifres. ben graham did the best punting last year when you take all the categories. he had the most in the 20 punts and had only 3 touchbacks, while still has having the third best average.

shane lechler
andy lee
ben graham
dustin colquitt
donnie jones

Since: Jul 6, 2010
Posted on: July 6, 2010 7:30 pm

Positional rankings: punters

Speak for yourself. I love Lechler and I'm sure most Raider fans do too.

Since: Jul 6, 2010
Posted on: July 6, 2010 7:28 pm

Positional rankings: punters

So you are saying that Lechler is not as good as everyone says he is because he doesn't get that many punts inside the 20. And then you note that he constantly has to punt from bad field position because of the offense. You're contradicting yourself.

Since: Jan 2, 2009
Posted on: July 6, 2010 6:31 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Nov 20, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2010 2:57 pm

Positional rankings: punters

The BEST punter in the League?

Since: Mar 4, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2010 2:02 pm

Positional rankings: punters

I disagree that Shane Lechler is anything other than the best in the league. True,  Lechler has never been a coffin-corner guy.  (Can I still use that term?)  His leg power is unparalelled, however, and his foot has kept us in games.  Without Lechler, we'd have had entire games played on our side of the 50 in the last couple of years.  Lechler has very little opportunity to use directional punting, since the team is rarely that close to the other team's endzone, but I think can do it.  In fact, with Janikowski around, we don't punt much once we're on the other side of the 50.  No need.  The point is, the opportunities are so rare, we don't really know.  We do know about his leg strength, and its awesome.  I'll take Lechler anyday of the Bolts punter.  (Keep punting from the other team's 35, Chargers.)

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