There’s no question that Shane Lechler is one of the best punters in the NFL.
When the Oakland Raiders drafted Sebastian Janikowski in the first round and Shane Lechler in the fifth round of the 2000 NFL Draft, their special teams unit instantly transformed into one of the league’s best.
Lechler’s career-long punt stands at 80 yards, and his ability to pin opposing teams back deep was a weapon that the Raiders were thankful for.
But unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and Shane Lechler packed up his bags and walked away from the Oakland Raiders to play for the Houston Texans.
In 2009, the Raiders signed him to a 4-year, $16 million deal that made him the NFL’s highest-paid punter. But the 12-year veteran from Texas A&M is getting old.
As Lechler slowly approaches his 37th birthday, the Raiders should be glad that they can move on to a younger and cheaper punter. Even better news, Oakland doesn’t have to look far for their new guy. Their hidden gem is already in their roster, a guy that will have big shoes to fill but will step up to the challenge and do so.
A guy named Marquette King.
King, an undrafted free-agent, is only 24 years old and has a cannon for a leg. The Raiders placed him on the injured reserve list last season in order to keep him on the team instead of cutting him when they had to reduce their roster size to a final 53.
The Raiders were lucky to snag King, as he has a bright future, and showed some promising signs in the preseason. If you don’t believe me, just check out this video of King bombing punts in the air including a 5.5 second hang time. Yeah, he’s legit.
And whenever a rookie comes into the NFL, especially one that is undrafted, you know that they always have to have the utmost confidence and belief in themselves if they want to truly succeed on the world’s brightest stage. In this case, nobody should be doubting King’s confidence.
“To be honest, I know when I hit my A ball I am just as good as any punter,” said King, who began his collegiate career playing wide receiver.
Head coach Dennis Allen is also on board with King and the talents he brings, and that will play a pivotal role in the final agreement to go with the young gun.
“When he hits it, he hits it as good as anybody,” coach Dennis Allen said. ”He’s just got to work on staying consistent.”
It was very tough for the Oakland Raiders to depart with their long-time punter Shane Lechler. He served as a true class act for the organization and although the team didn’t always get the job done, they could always count on Lechler to pin the opponents deep in their own territory.
With Lechler moving on to a bigger and better situation, I believe King will do the same. This is his calling, and I believe that he will capture the moment and claim the job as the starting punter for the Oakland Raiders.