Michael Dickson is one of the best punting prospects of all time. The Seahawks have just taken him in the NFL Draft, using the 12th pick of the fifth round to do it. They had to trade up for him, because Dickson was valuable enough to be in some demand.
If you’re a Seahawks fan, you can be upset that your team just invested a pretty valuable draft pick on a punter. Or you can let yourself have a little fun and marvel at the punting god your team just landed. He’s so good he just might be worth the pick.
They don’t make punters better than Dickson.
If someone were engineering the perfect NFL punter in an underground laboratory, they would come up with something along the lines of Dickson. He’s a cut 6’2 and 208 pounds, with the length and athletic flexibility to keep himself healthy while he swings his right leg wildly a couple of times per game for a whole season.
He’s from Australia, maybe the most fertile punting ground in the world, where kids grow up playing rugby and Aussie rules football and realize eventually they have the chops to punt in the U.S. game. He specializes in a so-called “bent-leg” punting style that’s common on his home continent and has served him well here.
“The bent leg is like a regular thing in that sport. I just think Aussie Rules have this connection between our hand, foot, and eyes because we pass the AFL ball around so much and do all different kinds of kicks like a curve or a low one,” Dickson said at the NFL Combine in March. “My technique still follows the same fundamentals of an American punter with hips and follow through on everything. But I feel I’ve just that little edge, that kinesthetic sense that I have that is an advantage to me.”
Dickson declared for the draft after his junior season at Texas, a year in which he was by far the country’s best punter.
Look at his 2017 resume: He averaged 47.4 yards per punt, third-best in the country, and did that over 84 punts. (The two guys who averaged more yards punted 70 times or fewer each and still only beat him by up to 0.2 yards per boot.)
The Longhorns were No. 1 in Bill Connelly’s Punting Success Rate, a metric that measures how well a punting unit changes field position. Of the 84 punts, 41 wound up inside the opposition’s 20-yard line, and 33 were fair-caught. Just eight went for touchbacks.
NFL.com grades him as the class’ best punter by quite a bit, ranking him among a bunch of position players who went in the second round, and SB Nation’s Dan Kadar ranked him No. 136 overall, 62 spots ahead of the next punter.
He had maybe the best punting game in college history.
The 2017 Texas Bowl between UT and Missouri was little more than a Dickson exhibition. He punted 11 times for a 41.1-yard average, and that’s nice and all, but to get a sense of how good Dickson was that night, you really have to look at his individual punts.
This 34-yarder that got downed at the Missouri four-yard line:
Or this 58-yarder that hopped out of bounds at the Missouri 10:
Or this 48-yarder that got downed at the Missouri two-yard line:
Or maybe this 33-yard pooch that got downed at the Missouri three:
Of his 11 punts that marvelous night, 10 settled inside the Mizzou 15, seven inside the 10, and four inside the five. Watching Dickson punt was like watching Michelangelo work with rock. He won the game’s MVP honor as the Longhorns beat the Tigers, 33-16.
Whatever you think about drafting punters, don’t blame Dickson.
Just be happy that you’ll get to watch this master of the punting craft do his thing.