Who is Riley Dixon? 3 fun facts about the LA Rams new punter

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams released former long-time punter Johnny Hekker earlier in the off-season. Of course, that created a void in the roster, because there was no backup or developmental punter on the roster. Without Johnny Hekker, the Rams would need a punter tout suite.  And the most obvious choice is the upcoming 2022 NFL Draft which is surprisingly loaded with punter talent.

But there is a huge risk involved with entering any NFL draft and looking to fill a roster need. The necessity of needing to do something in the midst of a 5-minute rush is not something to do willingly.  The LA Rams have eight draft picks, but none are high enough in the selection process to bank on anyone being on the board by the time the Rams select.

And so, the Rams chose a wiser route by signing a punter before the draft arrives. He is Riley Dixon, and the team announced signing him to a one-year prove-it deal.

So who the heck is Riley Dixon, anyway? Well, he’s a six-year veteran punter who has played for the Denver Broncos and the New York Giants. He stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 221 pounds. While a punter, he has been used as an emergency kicker as well. While not suffering from blocked punts in 2021, he has had five punts blocked over his career. He was released in March 2022 by the Giants as a salary cap casualty.

Fun fact I: Riley Dixon’s production similar to Johnny Hekker

In many ways, his punting is similar to that of Johnny Hekker from the 2021 NFL season.

  • Category          Hekker      Dixon
  1. Gross yds          44.2            44.4
  2. Net yds              42.6            39.5
  3. Inside 20            23                24
  4. Touchbacks         1                  6
  5. FairCatch            25                15
  6. P Returns             9                28
  7. Rtn Yards            60             237
  8. Avg Rtn                 6.7              8.5

The Rams clearly needed to sign somebody who could punt the football in the NFL, and the recently released Riley Dixon is certainly somebody who can do that. In fact, per Lineups.com, Dixon helped the Giants punting unit to perform among the NFL’s Top 10 for 2022 in punting net average.

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Fun Fact II: Riley Dixon has ties to LA Rams Special Teams

So what is the connection? Why did the LA Rams sign him? Well, it just so happens that Riley Dixon was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the 228th overall pick. The Special Teams Coordinator for the Denver Broncos at the time? None other than the LA Rams’ current ST Coordinator, Joe DeCamillis.

It’s encouraging to see his former ST coordinator wants to reunite with the Rams. For starters, it means that the player and coordinator have a good working relationship and that Dixon is at least someone that DeCamillis can envision punting for the team. The two are familiar with one another, which should minimize the risk of unpleasant surprises for the team in 2022.

Fun Fact III: Riley Dixon could still be a veteran segue?

While that is certainly promising, it’s by no means a sounding of the ‘all’s clear’ klaxon. In fact, there is really no wow in anything that Dixon put up in his NFL career so far. He’s played in all games, so he is durable. His performance over his career has not deviated very far from his average, so he is both consistent and dependable.  He has a strong leg, as displayed in his longest punt statistic of 63 yards for a punt in 2021 and 71 yards for a punt in 2020.

But the role does not appear to be filled just yet. Not from this signing. I would not be surprised to find the Rams drafting a punter to compete for the starting role in training camp. Dixon is a solid performer whose upside is very likely already on display.

The Rams may seek to add one of the top punting talents in the Draft Class of 2022 to compete and offer more upside in the future for the starting punter role.

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