Could Richie Leone push Sam Koch for his job as Ravens punter?

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Competition could be brewing at the punter position this offseason.

One of the more interesting names to pop up on the undrafted free agent signings was Houston punter Richie Leone.

Given that Sam Koch has held the Ravens' job for the past seven seasons — a feat not often seen anymore at the position — it would appear a message is being sent. No one is safe. Be ready for some competition.

Koch had an up-and-down season in 2013, posting a net punting average of 38.9 yards per kick. This mark was only good for 22nd in the NFL, which could cause the Ravens to re-evaluate the position.

Remember: Justin Tucker was an undrafted free agent out of Texas and not many folks gave him a shot early on, even though he was competing against the embattled Billy Cundiff, who was coming off the infamous missed kick against New England in the 2012 AFC Championship.

Here's a look at Leone, to see how his 2013 collegiate stats compared with Koch's this past season:

Leone — 73 punts for an average of 43.2 yards per attempt, net average of 41.4, landed 34 of 73 punts (46.6 percent) inside the 20. Had 16 punts over 50 yards, four over 60.

Koch — 90 punts for an average of 46 yards per attempt, net average of 38.9, landed 27 of 90 punts (30 percent) inside the 20. Had at least a punt over 50 yards in 14 games, reaching over 60 in five with a long of 69.

The immediate reaction is that Koch has a stronger leg but Leone has some skill in pinning opposing teams deep in their own territory. That's a skill Koch has struggled with the past three seasons.

Koch is also due $2.2 million this season, so the need to cut him isn't all too prevalent in the grand scheme of things, unless the Ravens want to add a veteran that becomes available during training camp.

Point is, this could be a competition to watch based on the kind of talent Leone is. He appears to be more than just a camp body.


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