The 2018 NFL Scouting Combine kicks off later this week in Indianapolis, which means that our 2018 Positon Review series is coming to an end.
Today we wrap it up by taking a look at the Oakland Raiders specialists, a group that while small, certainly doesn’t lack character or personality.
Let’s see how they fared in 2017, and take a look down the road to 2018 and beyond.
*Overview: *For fans of the Silver and Black, there have been few more consistent presences in their lives than Sebastian Janikowski.
Entering 2017, the Pro Bowl kicker had been a staple on the Raiders roster for close to two decades, and even though he was rapidly approaching 40, “Seabass” showed no signs of slowing down.
But, alas, as they say, Father Time has yet to be defeated, and just a day before the Silver and Black’s regular season opener against the Tennessee Titans, Janikowski was placed on the Reserve/Injured list, effectively ending his 2017 season before it really started.
And after that, Giorgio Tavecchio did the rest.
The Italian national certainly didn’t show any nerves in his first NFL action, connecting on all four of his field goals – including two from 50-plus yards – en route to being named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week following the Week 1 win.
In his first regular season as a Raider, Tavecchio connected on 16 of 21 field goals (76.2%), 33 of 34 extra points (97.1%), and remained effective from long range connecting on three of his four attempts from 50-plus yards.
For the fifth year in a row, Marquette King handled the punting duties, and once again, the #KickSquad President delivered another strong season, finishing 2017 with a net average of 42.7 yards per kick, a career high for No. 7.
Additionally, King only had six touchbacks, his fewest since 2015.
Not to be forgotten, veteran long snapper Jon Condo was once again the man snapping the ball to the specialists; he appeared in all 16 games.
The Number To Know: 59
Since 2014, King has pinned 59 (17.3%) of his punts inside the opponents 10-yard line, a mark that is best in the league during that span.
Kansas City Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt ranks No. 2 in that metric with 52 punts inside the 10-yard line.
*Going Forward: *The Sebastian Janikowski-era officially ended on February 15, as Owner Mark Davis released a statement announcing the team would be moving on from the beloved kicker.
Last week, “Seabass” himself thanked the Raider Nation for their support, saying he was “given a chance to achieve the great American dream.”
With No. 11 now moving on, I expect to see Tavecchio get a chance to win the starting job, although I wouldn’t be surprised if another kicker was brought in to push him throughout the Offseason Workout Program and training camp.
Marquette King is still under contract in 2018, but long snapper is the position I have my eyes on going forward.
Condo, the veteran incumbent, is scheduled to become a free agent at the start of the league year, and even if he does return, it looks like he’ll have to fight for his job, as the Raiders have acquired both Andrew East and local-product Bradley Northnagel over the past few months.
*MVP Of The Position Group: *It’s presidential; Marquette King is your specialist MVP in 2017.
Few teams are lucky enough to have a punter who can completely flip the field at a moment’s notice, but the Raiders are one of the few who can boast a player just like that.
King was really good once again in 2017, and truth be told, he probably should have been named to the Pro Bowl.
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