Truthfully, no one is going to replace Shane Lechler.
Lechler is indisputably one of the best punters in league history and is simply irreplaceable. The veteran has a punting average of 47.5 yards in his career with incredible hang time to his kicks, and he has consistently good placement of the ball as well. Lechler is a seven-time Pro Bowler and six-time first-team All-Pro. His single longest career punt is 80 yards, and many would argue he is the best punter in NFL history.
Nevertheless, Oakland now has two punters in the competition to take Lechler’s former spot. The fight for a starting job is between Marquette King and Chris Kluwe, and it is going to be a close call.
In last year’s preseason, King got a chance to punt quite a few balls and certainly showed head coach Dennis Allen some promise. He was consistently kicking deep, high, smooth punts with great confidence like he had a chip on his shoulder, which was incredibly impressive for a rookie.
Oakland was very impressed with King in college because he was constantly booming 70 and 80 yard punts on the sidelines of practice, which was recorded at over 5.6 seconds of hang time. In college, Marquette punted an 80-yarder against Bethune Cookman University and a 76-yard punt against Clark Atlanta. These punts are not a fluke; this kid can do it, over and over again. Some say King might be the most special punter coming out of college since Lechler.
The youngster clearly has the potential to become a fantastic punter in this league, but he has some competition on his hands.
The veteran punter Kluwe has been in the league for eight years now and was just recently signed by the Raiders to compete with Marquette King. Kluwe has had a successful career punting the football with a 44.4 yards per punt average. His longest punt is 70 yards, which is a solid number to say the least, and the hang time is there on his kicks. He has to battle with the young, talented Marquette King, but he can definitely compete for the job.
I stand by my belief which is that Marquette King will be the Oakland Raiders starting punter next season. Although it wouldn’t surprise me if I was wrong due to the fact that Kluwe has had a very successful career with the numbers to prove it. I watched King punt a few footballs in college and in last year’s preseason, and the kid has a special leg.
Raider nation will never forget the legacy of arguably the best punter in the history in Lechler, but it’s time to move on. Whoever becomes Oakland’s punter for next season is hoping he can fulfill Lechler’s former legacy in great fashion, but the shoes to fill are huge.