KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Arguably one of the NFL’s top punters has worn a Chiefs uniform for 11 seasons.
But many outside the region apparently aren’t familiar with Dustin Colquitt based on annual Pro Bowl voting tallied from coaches, players and fans.
While he is an alternate for the Pro Bowl behind Sam Koch of the Baltimore Ravens and Johnny Hekker of the St. Louis Rams, Colquitt has made just one all-star game in his career despite a highly productive career.
“He’s one of those top-three guys,” special teams coordinator Dave Toub said. “There’s no question.”
For his part, Colquitt, who made the Pro Bowl in 2012, complimented the two punters heading to Honolulu.
“Sam Koch is definitely deserving and he’s kind of one of those guys like me, I mean, I went eight years before I made my first one,” Colquitt said. “He’s waited 10 years – this is his 10th season – and he finally made one. Johnny Hekker, this is his second in three years. Those guys had great years.”
Colquitt wouldn’t mind participating in the NFL’s all-star game, but he sees himself being preoccupied during the Pro Bowl.
And individual recognition ultimately takes a back seat to what the Chiefs hope to accomplish the rest of the season.
“Right now we’re in a playoff hunt, a Super Bowl thing, it’s not even on my radar,” Colquitt said of the Pro Bowl voting. “I mean, if I was chosen, great. But when (coach) Andy (Reid) called me yesterday (Tuesday), I said I can’t go anyway. I’m going to be busy because our focus is a team thing.”
Nevertheless, that the annual Pro Bowl voting process consistently overlooks Colquitt’s punting skills can prove perplexing.
“What happens is everybody looks at the numbers,” Toub said. “He’s not going to have the kind of numbers that some of these other guys that bomb the football. He’s going to do what we ask him to do, which is be a directional guy.”
Toub has a point if the Pro Bowl voters are strictly going off yardage statistics.
Hekker leads the NFL with a 48.3 yards per punt average, while Koch’s 47.7 yards per punt is tied at third with Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee. Colquitt’s 45.7 yards ranks 16th.
But where Colquitt has historically excelled surrounds ball placement.
His punts consistently flip field position, evidenced this season with 32 of his 65 punts landing inside an opponent’s 20-yard line.
Colquitt’s total punts inside the 20 entering Week 16 ranks third in the NFL behind Oakland Raiders punter Marquette King (39) and Hekker (38). Koch has 24 punts inside the 20, a total tied for 14th in the league.
“He’s such a team guy as far as putting the ball inside the 20 and kicking it out of bounds if we ask him to kick it out of bounds,” Toub said of Colquitt. “He’s not worried about numbers and he’s been really good to us as a team. If you go back and watch how he affected our games – the games that we won, even the ones we lost – he was a big factor in great field position.”
The skill of pinning opponents deep in their own territory earned Colquitt the AFC Special Teams of the Week following a Week 11 performance against the San Diego Chargers. In that 33-3 win, Colquitt placed four punts at San Diego’s 7-, 6-, 11- and 1-yard line.
Colquitt is the Chiefs’ all-time leader with 348 punts inside the 20; the next closest in team history is Louie Aguiar with 117.
The 348 career punts inside the 20-yard line ranks seventh all-time in NFL history since the league started tracking the statistic in 1976.
“I try to punt how my team needs me to in that game,” Colquitt said. “Who’s their return guy, what are they doing to our gunners and I just try to situational punt, and that’s what these guys – even the two guys that made the Pro Bowl this year – do, too.”
Meanwhile, the Chiefs punter enjoys the fact his peers around the league, such as Koch, get to experience the Pro Bowl for the first time.
Colquitt said he isn’t frustrated by the lack of recognition from voters and he understands it comes with the territory based on the position he plays.
“Punting is a humbling position, anyway, because you don’t get a lot of notoriety,” Colquitt said. “It’s like an artist, you call them a starving artist, they get noticed after they’re done.
“I like that. I like coming here to work, walking into a store with (kicker) Cairo (Santos) and he gets noticed before me and I’ve been here 10 years longer. I’m totally fine with that.”
Colquitt’s mentality isn’t a surprise to the Chiefs special teams coordinator.
“It doesn’t bother him, he’s such a team guy,” Toub said. “It would be nice for him to get that recognition when he deserves it, and he certainly deserved it this year.”