Football is back and that means so is Kicker Consideration, your one stop shop for stats, analysis, and news for the Seahawks special teamers, and starting year 2 of the series we have ourselves a battle at punter.
Here at Fieldgulls we had speculated the team would move to find a replacement for Jon Ryan as his cap hit rapidly increases this season from $1 million to $2.6 million, but moving up in the fifth round and drafting a punter came as a surprise to many. John Schneider had, before the 2018 draft, never selected a kicker or punter with a draft pick, but for the majority of his tenure with Steven Hauschka and Ryan he never needed to.
It was probably never the case, even given the need at both positions, that Seattle was going to use a draft pick on both. So why punter? In 2016, fivethirtyeight published an article on the value and accuracy of kickers league wide. At the end of the article a startling point sticks out, by added value four of the five most valuable kickers are punters. Perhaps this lends some insight into the mind of the general manager. Then again, it could just be the availability of a punter nominated three times in a row as the best punter in NCAA football among other awards and accolades.
Michael Dickson’s selection heralded a new era in drafting strategy and punter hype in the Seattle fan base, well as much hype as a punter can reasonably be expected to generate. Once he arrived at camp, the highly awarded college prospect immediately began to impress with his strong leg and incredible placement.
Michael Dickson punting from his own 10. You tell me where TF that landed. pic.twitter.com/QeJSeNTkSA— Jared Stanger (@JaredStanger) May 5, 2018
So how did the anticipated rookie hold up to Ryan? For the most part the distance, hang time numbers are virtually the same. One thing that stuck out to me is the context behind both kickers’ sub 40 yard punts. When Dickson punted for 34 yards, it was to pin the Colts back behind their own 20 yard line. This is exactly what he accomplished, though he could still do a bit better than landing it at the 14.
However, Ryan’s 37 yard punt attempt landed at the 36 yard line which is simply not deep enough given the short range of the attempt. All in all Dickson’s punts landed Indianapolis 14 yards farther away on average per punt from the end zone than those of Ryan.
For the remainder of the preseason Kicker Consideration is going to focus on the battle between these two punters. Given there was only one field goal attempt we will have to save comparing Sebastian Janikowski and Jason Myers for another day, but it should be noted that Myers’ first kickoff attempt was a bit of a duck. The samples are so small for the moment, and we can’t extrapolate too much from anything we saw last night against Indianapolis. But at this point given the large difference in cap space, $2.6 million for one year of Ryan or $2.75 million for four years of Dickson, it seems as though the job is the rookie’s to lose.