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Spending a draft pick
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laiyongcai92 Offline
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Spending a draft pick

on a punter isn’t unusual in the NFL because field position matters in the league. When that rookie comes in and shows off a booming leg Rasheem Green Jersey , people take notice.Michael Dickson bypassed his final year of eligibility at Texas to enter the draft early, and the Seattle Seahawks traded up in the fifth round to take the Australian native and 2017 Ray Guy Award winner. Dickson has made both decisions pay off very nicely in his debut season.Dickson edged out Johnny Hekker of the Los Angeles Rams as the NFL’s top punter in 2018 in voting released Friday by a panel of 10 football writers for The Associated Press. Dickson received four first-place votes and was the only punter listed on every ballot.“When’s the last time a rookie topped any of the position rankings? Who knows?” Dallas-based Schuyler Dixon said. “When’s the last time a punter skipped his final season of eligibility for the draft? This former Texas Longhorn is a generational talent.”Dickson, who has had a long punt of 69 yards this season, is second in gross punting averaging at 48.7 yards. But the rookie easily leads the NFL with a net average of 44.2 yards. He’s also placed 20 punts inside an opponent’s 20. Dickson was voted the NFC’s special teams player for November thanks to his leg.“Spending a fifth-round draft pick on the Aussie from the Texas Longhorns has turned into a key move in Seattle’s unexpectedly solid season,” New York-based lead NFL writer Barry Wilner said.Hekker, who finished fourth in these rankings in 2017, received two first-place votes. His biggest challenge comes from playing for a team with a high-powered offense that just doesn’t need him much. Luckily, Hekker keeps finding ways to make himself valuable.“He’s a four-tool punter,” said Philadelphia-based Rob Maaddi. “Hekker can run or throw for a first down on fake punts, and he has also made an extra point and field goal this season. His net average being fifth is just an added bonus.”In all, 17 punters received at least one vote, with only five receiving at least one first-place vote.Brett Kern of the Tennessee Titans, who earned his first Pro Bowl nod in 2017 when he also the top punter in these rankings , joined Hekker receiving two first-place votes and finished third. Kern is fourth with a gross average of 40.5 yards with his net taking a hit from a struggling punt coverage unit. But the 11-year veteran still has a strong leg, with a long of 62 yards this season.“Forget drafting Tim Tebow or trading Jay Cutler, Josh McDaniels’ head coaching legacy in Denver was inexplicably waiving Kern, who landed on Tennessee’s roster and has been nothing but sensational for the last decade,” said Denver-based Arnie Stapleton.No punter has had as many chances this season as Andy Lee of Arizona, not that usage is limiting his effectiveness. Lee finished fourth with a leg that has a long punt of 64 yards this season.“Lee is a three-time Pro Bowl pick and could be in for another trip with another solid season,” New York-based Dennis Waszak Jr. said. “With Arizona’s offense struggling as the worst-ranked unit in the league, Lee has been plenty busy while punting an NFL-leading 71 times, and his 48.5 gross average and 41.7 net both rank near the top.”Cameron Johnston of Philadelphia finished fifth as the other punter to receive a first-place vote. New York-based Simmi Buttar noted the Australia native is tied for the league lead in gross average with Dickson and has a long punt of 68 yards.Washington’s Tress Way and Dustin Colquitt of the Chiefs tied for sixth. San Francisco-based Josh Dubow noted no punter has been better than Way at pinning teams deep, with nearly 60 percent of his punts downed inside the 20.“No one has even approached that mark in nearly three decades,” Dubow said.Colquitt, like Hekker, simply doesn’t get many chances to punt. Wilner says, yes, Colquitt could get rusty with how well the Chiefs move the ball, but the punter remains one of the NFL’s best.Sam Koch is a 13-year veteran for Baltimore yet remains a factor for the Ravens and came in eighth. He finished just ahead of a second-year punter in Matt Haack of Miami. The Dolphins keep Haack pretty busy Will Dissly Jersey , but he has put 31 kicks inside the 20 to finish ninth.Rigoberto Sanchez of the Colts came in 10th, and he has the second-best net average at 42.8 yards that cannot be ignored.“Don’t usually look at indoor kickers, but Sanchez has given up a total of 63 return yards,” Wilner said. The decision to part with Richard Sherman 鈥?along with several other impact veterans 鈥?was supposed to be part of the cumulative reason the Seattle Seahawks would finally take a step back. This was going to be the rebuild season, even if no one with the Seahawks ever wanted to use that word.Sherman will see his former team up close Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers face the Seahawks. He will find a Seattle team that's not backsliding. Instead, Seattle (6-5) has won two straight and has a direct path to an NFC playoff berth in a season no one really expected the Seahawks to be in the conversation at the beginning of December.The players who stepped in for the likes of Sherman and other veterans who departed after last season have brought a youthful exuberance. That has created a fun environment in Seattle only amplified by the Seahawks' success."This game is too crazy to not have fun and it's definitely a point of emphasis for me, just for the guys that came in and were stepping into a lot of key positions, to not worry about who they were replacing or who you were coming behind, " Seattle star linebacker Bobby Wagner said, "but just to have the fun you've been having all your life and everything else will figure out itself."Fun has come around sparingly in San Francisco this season. The 49ers (2-9) were supposed to be in Seattle's position of competing for a playoff spot. But injuries 鈥?namely the loss of QB Jimmy Garoppolo 鈥?derailed those hopes early in the season. They looked great in thumping Oakland on Nov. 1, only to turn around and drop their next two against the weak Giants and Buccaneers."I do think we're going through this for a reason. I do think it can make us better," 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. "A lot of guys have gotten to play a lot that normally wouldn't be able to play, and I hope that helps us find some things out about people this year and helps us build this team better next year."Welcoming Sherman back to Seattle starts a stretch of four of the final five games at home for the Seahawks. They've been a notoriously good team in the final month of the calendar, and getting to play at home is adding to the belief this season could end in an unexpected playoff berth.Here's what else to watch as the Seahawks and 49ers meet for the first of two games in 14 days:RISING RUSSELLSeattle QB Russell Wilson is coming off his best performance of the season against Carolina. With Seattle's running game shut down by the Panthers, Wilson threw for a season-high 339 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the 30-27 win, showing that Seattle's offense can function just fine when its ground game is stymied. The Seahawks have been the best run team in the NFL for most of the season, but Wilson's performance was a reminder he can be an elite passer when needed.MAN IN THE MIDDLEThe 49ers handed Fred Warner big responsibility when they inserted him at middle linebacker and made him the defensive play caller as a rookie. Warner's role will only get bigger after San Francisco released second-year linebacker Reuben Foster following his arrest last weekend on domestic violence charges. Warner has been one of the bright spots with his ability to get the defense in the right calls and thrive against both the run and pass. He will have a tough test this week against Wilson."He's a mobile quarterback, so being able to escape the pocket and make big plays with his legs, that's what he's known for," Warner said. "We have to be aware of that."TURNOVER TIMESeattle got its first turnover in three-plus games last week when Bradley McDougald made an acrobatic end zone interception of Cam Newton. The Seahawks also forced five fumbles against the Panthers, but failed to recover any. It was a long drought that saw Seattle drop to 11th in the league with 17 turnovers forced.That's nothing compared to the 49ers. San Francisco is last in the NFL with just five takeaways. The Niners have just two interceptions and haven't forced a turnover in the last three games.HOUSE OF HORRORSPlaying in Seattle has led only to disappointment for the 49ers in recent years. The Niners have lost their last seven trips, including the 2013 NFC title game, getting outscored by more than 15 points per game. San Francisco's last win here came in 2011 with Alex Smith at quarterback. Since then, Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert and Brian Hoyer have combined for 10 turnovers, 16 sacks, three TD passes and a 61.4 passer rating in Seattle.First-year QB Nick Mullens will try to reverse that trend and bounce back from two rough starts following a sterling debut. Mullens has thrown four interceptions the past two games in losses to the Giants and Tampa Bay and faces a much tougher defense this week.
05-15-2019 05:46 AM
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