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Evaluating the Chiefs’ options at punter

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After Dustin Colquitt’s release, who are the candidates to fill the Chiefs open punter position?

LSU v Florida Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Late on Monday night, we hit the end of an era. in a cost-saving move, the Kansas City Chiefs released punter Dustin Colquitt, saving $2 million in salary-cap space for the coming season and providing $1.3 million in immediate cap relief.

So where will Chiefs will go from here?

Colquitt has been a stable presence for the last 15 seasons, making punter a set-it-and-forget-it position. The Chiefs have two punters currently on the roster: rookie undrafted free agent Tommy Townsend from Florida and second-year punter Tyler Newsome, who spent the 2019 preseason with the Los Angeles Chargers.

And they both have awesome hair!

Let’s take a look at both players — and how they stack up in a Hair vs. Hair showdown to become the Chiefs’ next punter.

Tommy Townsend

Florida v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The Chiefs are reported to have given Townsend $82,500 guaranteed on his UDFA contract. That’s a sizable commitment for a rookie punter. Townsend has a good leg, averaging 44 yards per punt in 2019 — including a 71-yard bomb against the Missouri Tigers. He dropped a solid 47.6% of his punts inside the 20-yard line. As a reference, Colquitt dropped 43.8% of his punts inside the 20 during 2019.

In 2019, Townsend also helped the Florida Gators have the third-best punt return average in the FBS: just 1.29 yards per return. His directional kicking and kick placement were solid, allowing his coverage team to get downfield and make the play.

Where Townsend may have a leg up on the competition is his comfort level as a holder for field goals and extra points — something for which Colquitt was responsible during his entire Kansas City tenure. Townsend held that task full-time at Florida.

Tyler Newsome

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Of the two, Newsome is the big bomber, showcasing a cannon of a leg during his time at Notre Dame. He has fantastic hang time, and he averaged 44.7 yards per punt in his senior year — including a game against Vanderbilt in which three of his punts traveled over 60 yards. He’s a bigger punter, too — putting up 30 bench reps in the 2018 NFL Combine.

Newsome’s performance inside the 20 isn’t quite as good as Townsend’s, dropping just 35.8% percent of his punts there. He also had nine touchbacks. While his hang time is excellent, Newsome will too often out-kick his coverage, allowing far too many returns. In last year’s preseason with the Chargers, 6 of his 7 punts were returned for an average of 7.7 yards.

The bottom line

Super Bowl LIV - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Since he displays better placement and directional kicking ability, I think the job is Townsend’s to lose. Newsome’s distance is certainly tantalizing, but Chiefs special teams coach Dave Toub asks his punters to place the ball a lot more consistently than Newsome has in the past. Adding Townsend’s day-one ability to be a holder for Harrison Butker only makes the decision easier for the Chiefs.

I’m giving Townsend the nod to replace a Chiefs legend in 2020.

Poll

Who wins the job?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    Tommy Townsend
    (2393 votes)
  • 9%
    Tyler Newsome
    (246 votes)
2639 votes total Vote Now