Ryan Stonehouse booted bombs at CSU for 5 years, but Broncos missed him


For a team that punts as much as the Broncos have the past six years, you’d think they could identify a good punter when they see one. Alas, one of the best in college football history was booting bombs under their noses for half a decade in FoCo, and somehow they missed it.

Ryan Stonehouse — A

This much we now know for certain:

It wasn’t the thin air that made Ryan Stonehouse a record-breaking punter for the CSU Rams from 2017 to 2021.

All Stonehouse did in his first year with the Tennessee Titans was break a single-season record held by Sammy Baugh since 1940, averaging an astounding 53.1 yards per punt.

The end result: Stonehouse was named a second-team AP All-Pro on Friday.

Yup, an undrafted free agent All-Pro. And the Broncos let him leave the state.

Of course, this would be a little more forgivable if Denver already had an established veteran in place.

In some respects, they did: Sam Martin was signed to a three-year, $7.05 million contract in 2020, with the idea that his directional punting mastery would be a staple of the Broncos’ special teams well in the future. Yet just two years later, he was released prior to the start of this season, and replaced by second-year pro Corliss Waitman after Martin lost a training camp competition.

So, really, they had a pricey veteran they were more than happy to release for a more cost-effective replacement — who, by the way, was outperformed by both Martin and Stonehouse in nearly every statistical measure.

Which leaves the Grading the Week staff scratching our collective heads.

If the Broncos were even considering cutting Martin, why not just go out and sign the undrafted rookie from up the road who just set the NCAA record for career punting average (47.8 yards/punt)? You think a guy like that could’ve been useful for a team that led the NFL in total punts (96)?

Perhaps the Broncos were too busy dreaming about all the points they were going to score in Nathaniel Hackett’s offense.

Broncos coaching search — C+

Judging by the reaction on social media to former Stanford coach David Shaw’s interview for the Broncos’ head job, there weren’t a whole lot of Denver media members watching the Cardinal the past four years.

Well, let us be the first to tell you: It wasn’t pretty.


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