It appears as if the competition has come to an end. After weeks of speculation, one player has proven superior. He played better, performed harder, and blew the other competition away. He made it clear in OTA's that he was clearly better. You all know what I am talking about. The winner of the punter competition is: Britton Colquitt.Okay, so it's not as big of a deal as say the quarterback position. However, the punter is not a position that should be taken for granted. How many times did you find yourself cursing at Mitch Berger last season? Let me guess, every game he played in?
Anyway, a couple days ago, Josh McD said,
Again, I think Britton (Colquitt) is ahead. We've done a lot of different situations, we've charted them, we've put them in some tough predicaments and we've monitored their progress. I think both players have really improved a lot in 16 practices and I think, you know, it's always good to have young players pushed. Again, that's a competitive situation, you know, like we have at a lot of places on our football team, and I think that's only making both of them better but at this point, I'd say that Britton has kind of pulled ahead.
Two days later, punter A.J. Trapesso was released from the Broncos leaving Britton as the only punter on the roster heading into Training Camp. Being the only player at his position is a strong indication that he will be on the team come the opener against Jacksonville. So who is Britton Colquitt and will he help our team?
Britton played college football at the University of Tennessee. He played and started there all 4 years. At the University of Tennessee, Colquitt played in 43 games, punting 209 times for 8,897 yards (42.6 avg.) with 73 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. He only had one punt blocked for his collegiate career and also handled kickoff duties. He received first-team All-Southeastern Conference honors as a sophomore in 2006 and second-team all-conference accolades as a junior in 2007. Here is a chart of his collegiate punting.
In his freshman year (2005), Britton punted the ball 59 times for an average of 41.2 yards. His long was 64 yards.
In his sophomore year (2006), Britton punted the ball 46 times with an average of 44.9 yards. His long was 63 yards.
In his junior year (2007), Britton punted the ball 62 times with an average of 41.6 yards. His long was 57 yards.
In his senior year (2008), Britton punted the ball 42 times after being stripped of his scholarship then being reinstated with an average of 43.4 yards. His long was 71 yards.
His career average is 42.6 yards per punt.
Mitch Berger was the Denver punter for 10 games in 2009. His average those 10 games was 42 yards. He placed 27th out of 36 punters in yards per punt last season. (Technically he was 28th out of 40, but 4 of the people on the list only punted the ball once so they weren't taken into account.) Number 1 on the list was Shane Lechler of Oakland. He punted the ball 51.7 yards per punt...Wow.
Anyway, here are the records for each of Berger's games last season.
One of the main things that stick out is that Mitch was at his worst when he had to punt the ball more. In the Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Oakland, Kansas City games, he punted the ball at least 6 times. His highest yards per punt in those 6 games was 42.5. His lowest was 34.9. All of these games resulted in losses. Now, to blame the losses on the punting game is outlandish. I am not doing that. However, the Philadelphia game was a very close game. His 34.9 yards per punt hurt the team.
Now, let's compare Mitch's 09 season with Colquitt's 08 season. Both of them had short seasons those years.
|10/18||Mississippi State||W 34-3||4||44.0||53||176||0||0.0||0||0.0||0||0||0.0||44.0|
|11/1||@South Carolina||L 27-6||9||45.3||71||408||0||0.0||0||0.0||0||0||0.0||45.3|
On the flip side, Colquitt seemed to be at his best when he punted the ball more. Against South Carolina, Colquitt punted the ball 9 times for a total of 45.3 yards per punt. That was also the game he punted his 71 yard bomb. The only curious stat is that he punted the ball just 39.8 and 37.5 yards per punt against Wyoming and Vanderbilt. In each of those games, he punted the ball 6 times.
When he came out of college, he was a mid-round grade based on talent. However, character concerns caused him to be undrafted. Here is the scouting report on him from CBS.
Positives: Lean, athletic frame. … Legitimate NFL-caliber leg strength with experience kicking off. … Smooth catch, drop, and punt form. … Two-step punter and had only one kick blocked in four years. … Good directional punter. … Targets the sideline to limit punt-return angles. … Good touch kicking toward the endzone. … Can deaden the ball, landing it with a high bounce to aid his coverage team. … Good bloodlines. … One of four from his family to have punted at Tennessee, including brother Dustin, now a punter with the Kansas City Chiefs and cousin, Jimmy, who punted for the Seattle Seahawks in the 1980s.
Negatives: Inconsistent height, and therefore hang-time, on his punts. … Can out-kick his coverage with line-drive punts. … Had at least four alcohol-related infractions while at Tennessee, the last of which (DUI, leaving the scene of an accident) resulted in Colquitt being suspended for the first five games of the 2008 season and stripped of his scholarship.
The fourth Colquitt to punt for the University of Tennessee, Britton has the size, leg strength and refined technique to make a successful transition to the NFL. Scouts will have to weigh that against off-field trouble. That could equate to the former consensus first-team All-SEC punter being relegated to rookie free agent status despite a mid-round grade for talent.
Barring any setbacks, Colquitt is going to be our starting punter. After two years in the NFL, he is finally ready to turn his potential into talent. He certainly has the leg strength. He faced an up hill battle coming from the practice squad. It appears he has conquered that challenge and is going to be our punter. Sounds like Matt Prater does it not? Want an interesting fact? Both Colquitt and Prater were on the Miami Dolphins at one point. They are two players who had two similar paths to the Broncos. If there is one thing that I know for sure, it is that I really really hate New England for drafting Zoltan :(.