Ranking the AFC West kicking specialists

This is the ninth in our series of position-by-position rankings. It is a little different this season because we’re ranking the players before free agency starts and before rosters are set. We will adjust accordingly as we go along, but we don’t expect many changes at this spot. On to a terrific group of punters and kickers:

1. Shane Lechler, Oakland: He is the premier punter in the game. His leg is registered-weapon material.

2. Mike Scifres, San Diego: His talent is close to Lechler’s. This is the best 1-2 punter division punch in football.

3. Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City: His talent is close to Lechler’s and Scifres’. This is the best 1-2-3 punter division punch in football.

4. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland: Janikowski is the best placekicker in this division. He missed eight field-goal attempts last season, but he is a fine weapon for Oakland.

5. Matt Prater, Denver: This is one of the better young kickers in football. He is terrific on kickoffs, and he missed just two field-goal attempts last season.

6. Nate Kaeding, San Diego: Kaeding is a strong kicker. He was injured a lot last season and has struggled in critical situations, but, overall, he is a plus kicker.

7. Ryan Succop, Kansas City: He has a chance to be become a very good kicker. He has a strong leg.

8. Britton Colquitt, Denver: Dustin’s little brother punted well in his first full NFL season. He appears to be a keeper, and he rounds out a fine group of kicking specialists.