Raiders Sleeper Cell: P Marquette King

Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Punters don't get a lot of notoriety in the NFL and former undrafted free agent punters who sit on injured reserve for their rookie season get even less notice. In fact, if you watched Twitter when the Raiders played, the only time you ever heard anyone mention Marquette King was some schmuck saying "The Raiders have a black punter??" (trust me, it happened several times each week throughout the season).

There is more to King than the mere fact that he happens to be a black man at a position almost entirely manned by white/European and Hispanic players. The far more interesting story is King is a former wide receiver who switched positions because he realized his booming leg was his ticket to the NFL, not his hands.

Once his strong leg was discovered, the task was to give it some discipline. That is no easy task, as any kicker or punter will attest. And NFL teams will not put up with poor execution and consistency just for the occasional moon blast.

When King first arrived, he was very raw and VERY inconsistent. For every majestic shot he had, he kicked a dud. Still, the Raiders took the chance he might be able to harness that power and become a real weapon.

There was no way King was going to unseat Shane Lechler while he was on the team so they placed King on injured reserve for the 2012 season knowing Lechler was to leave as a free agent after the season. Then come the 2013 preseason, King would have his shot at winning the job.

As much as many Raiders fans would have liked, there was no way the Raiders were going to put all their hopes on the leg of this young punter. They brought in 8-year veteran punter, Chris Kluwe, to compete for the job. If King was going to be the Raiders punter, he'd have to show up much more sharp and earn the job. He did just that.

King won the job out of camp and was the week one starter. Even still, it was clear King was relying on his big leg and struggled in his directional punting and placement. As a result, he finished the season second in the league in touchbacks.

On the other hand, he was lead the league in gross punt yardage. If he could put some precision behind that power, the Raiders would really have something. Oh, but he did.

The second half of the season, he was fantastic. Of his 11 touchbacks on the season, 8 of them happened in the first half of the season. He also upped his punts stopped inside the 20-yard line from 9 in the first half of the season to 14 over the final eight games.

Pretty soon, no one will be surprised that the Raiders have a black punter. Their surprise will be in how it is all the best punters in the league end up donning black jerseys on Sundays - the greatest ever about to be enshrined in Canton.

There is every reason to believe King will again lead the league in gross punting average. There is also reason to believe he will continue to tighten up his placement which would have him leading the league in net punt yardage as well. They call those guys All Pros.

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