- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
After watching games and breaking down film, Scouts Inc. has evaluated and graded more than 2,500 NFL players heading into the 2011 season. Here's how the punters stacked up.
Let's clear this up quickly. Shane Lechler is the greatest punter to wear a Raiders uniform, which might make him the greatest the position has seen. Really.
Like grading kickers, judging a punter's greatness is not necessarily an easy thing to do.
Weather has a ton to do with it, as do the opportunities. But one thing that differs from kickers to punters is that every team actually wants an athlete at the punter position.
It can be a huge help with wayward snaps, trick plays and potentially game-saving tackles as the last layer of defense. Few seem to realize it, but right now some exceptional athletes are playing the position.
Lechler has a strong leg and the ability to place his punts in the corner when near the 50-yard line.
He has solid mechanics with a high, fluid follow-through and does a good job of getting the ball out quickly. He is athletic enough to adjust to slightly off-target snaps and holds for points after touchdowns and field goals.
Lee has developed into one of the better punters in the league. He is a right-footed punter who generally takes a hitch plus two steps to get the ball off and shows good rhythm and a nice, extended follow-through.
He is a good directional punter and gets good height and hang time when kicking away. He has excellent hands when having to adjust or react to slightly off-target snaps and is the holder for PATs and field goals.
Colquitt has a strong leg and good athleticism that allows him to react and adjust to slightly off-target snaps. He is a left-footed, two-step punter who gets the ball off quickly and shows good leg extension on his follow-through.
He does a good job of getting height and hang time and can hit the coffin corners.
Jones has handled all the punting for the Rams in the past four seasons. He is left-footed and has excellent leg strength but has struggled with consistency throughout the course of his career and tends to hit more line drives than you'd like.
He did improve his hang time in 2010 and is getting better at hitting the coffin corners when near the 50-yard line. He has good hands that allow him to react and adjust to slightly off-target snaps and holds for field goals as well as PATs.
Moorman's overall production slipped a bit in 2010. He has solid mechanics and is normally a consistent performer.
He has big-time leg strength and is a good bad-weather punter, which is huge in Buffalo. He can directionally punt when the situations dictates it. He is effective at pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line.
Scouts Inc. ranks the top punters in the NFL. The Raiders' Shane Lechler comes in at No. 1.