Only one San Diego Chargers rookie that was selected in this years’ NFL Draft came out of the SEC, which is widely regarded as the best conference in college football. He didn’t just suit up as a benchwarmer either. This player entered the draft after dominating for three years, and leaving with an all time SEC record. He will jump into the Chargers starting lineup looking to make his mark in the NFL for years to come.
His name is Drew Kaser, and he is a punter.
Punters are people too dammit. Chargers fans should know. Bring up the name Darren Bennett to any Bolts enthusiast and they would immediately smile while adding high praise. The recently departed Mike Scifres continued the punting tradition of being a fan favorite during his thirteen year-long career.
Following in both of these legends footsteps won’t be easy. So why not choose the man who broke Shane Lechler’s college records? Yes, that Shane Lechler who is a six-time First-Team All Pro and has been to the Pro Bowl seven times.
Drew Kaser will have the biggest impact among Chargers rookies in 2016. Not Joey Bosa. Not Hunter Henry. Call it a bold prediction if it helps you wrap your head around that statement.
But is it that bold? If you break the game down the game of football into three parts – Offense, Defense, Special Teams – it really isn’t that wild to consider. Drew Kaser will start immediately on day one. He won’t have to compete for repetitions or be subbed out due to certain packages like Joey Bosa or Hunter Henry. He not looking up at anyone on the depth chart, like a Max Tuerk or Joshua Perry. He has the ability to single-handedly effect ⅓ of the entire game. Can any other rookie say that?
Playing for Texas A&M, Drew Kaser ranked 3rd in punt average (47.4 yards) and 17th in net yards (40.2) out of 128 schools in the FBS division in college. He also had 33% of his punts land inside the 20 yard line. That’s pretty good, in fact that’s great. Considering that the Chargers have been slipping in team punting statistics for the last few years.
If you watched the Chargers last season, you don’t need to see many stats regarding the punting unit to realize they were terrible. Scifres wasn’t the same guy he used to be, and the coverage team was as ugly as it has ever been. Just in case you can’t remember the ugliness, here’s the Chargers’ team punting rankings (out of 32 teams) for 2015:
Net yards – 30th
Avg Yards – 18th
Punts inside the 20 – 31st
Return yards – 27th
Fair catches – 27th
A change was in order. With Scifres’ injury battles, steady decline since 2012, and the fact he was due a bunch of money this year probably led to an easy decision for Telesco to grab Kaser with his first 6th round pick. It’s a bummer to see Scifres go but the time was right. Kudos to Tommy for that.
An improvement by the punting team can help this entire team in general. Being able to flip the field position on an opponent with a booming kick with good coverage and/or pinning them inside the 10 yard line can help any team win football games. Because of these abilities, top punters have been deemed an “offensive weapon.”
Kaser will be added to that the list. This is our guy for the next decade. And he might have the biggest rookie impact for the Chargers next season.
Born and raised in Chula Vista. Lifelong fan of Padres and SDSU (mens’ basketball and football). The former professional football team in San Diego used to be my favorite squad.
My first vivid memories of our beloved teams include witnessing Marshall Faulk and Darnay Scott torching teams in the WAC at the Murph, Tony Gwynn sandwiched in the lineup by Gary Sheffield and Fred McGriff.
Check me out on Twitter @Lukelley where there’s a link to my podcast: The LK Show.