In need of a punter, the Oakland Raiders may have a shot to grab Ray Guy Award winner Michael Dickson.
When the NFL Draft kicks off next week, Oakland Raiders General Manager Reggie McKenzie, and coach Jon Gruden, have a specific and targeted list of players and positions they will be looking to fill or upgrade.
The Raiders faithful know the deal: the team needs help all over the defense, particularly in the defensive backfield and in the linebacking corps. Names like Roquan Smith, Tremaine Edmunds, Vita Vea, Derwin James, and Minkah Fitzpatrick are all on the minds of fans and media alike. First round draft picks – especially one in the Top 10 – excite fans and have the ability to come in and make an instant impact.
Yet, the Raiders have some other needs they will address later in the draft. One of those needs is on special teams after the team released polarizing punter Marquette King, who signed with hated rival Denver last week. While many Raiders fans were disappointed to see the team release one of the league’s top punters, Gruden and company chose to move on. That means Oakland must find a serviceable punter and there is increasing chatter they will do so in the draft.
A name that keeps surfacing in mock drafts and in coverage of the Raiders draft plans is Texas punter Michael Dickson. The Ray Guy Award winner is the top punter in the draft and could be there in the fourth round should McKenzie fill other needs first. Would the Raiders take Dickson that early in the draft? Clearly, having a “top” punter who makes good coin wasn’t a priority as evidenced by the release of King. Yet, Dickson’s talent, coupled with his overall personality and demeanor, seem to be a good fit for Gruden and what he is trying to build in the locker room in Oakland.
What Makes Dickson Special?
Let’s start on the field: Dickson was the 2017 Big 12 Conference Special Teams Player of the year, 2017 First Team All-Big 12 Punter, 2017 Academic All-Big 12 First Team and was the Guy Award Punter of the Week during week 5 and 7 games. His dominant play not only earned him those accolades, but it significantly helped the Longhorns get back to respectability in the Big 12 which culminated in a 33-16 Texas Bowl victory in which he was selected as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
In his junior year at Texas, Dickson averaged 47.4 per punt and was more than just a punter. He’s a weapon on the field. In the NFL, where field position is vital, whomever snags the Australian will be getting a special teams ace.
If you're a team looking for a punter this offseason, Texas star Michael Dickson is the guy you want in the draft pic.twitter.com/OmkKjBW5UP
— Gordon McGuinness (@PFF_Gordon) March 29, 2018
Draft expert Dane Brugler, of NFLDraftScout.com, appearing on our Silver and Black Report radio show on CBS Sports Radio Las Vegas, has projected the Raiders selecting Dickson in the fourth round with the 110th pick overall. The Raiders last selected a punter that high in the draft (actually a round later in the 5th) was when they drafted Shane Lechler in 2000.
In Dickson the Raiders would be getting a punter with Grade-A talent and a personality that might be the perfect fit for the revamped Oakland locker room.
What do you think? If available, should the Raiders jump at Dickson in the fourth round?