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B/R NFL 1,000: Top 32 Kickers

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterMarch 21, 2012

B/R NFL 1,000: Top 32 Kickers

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    Can kickers be graded on numbers alone, or do you have to really dig in and scout each player?

    If the NFL is to ever adopt a "Moneyball"-like scouting method, kickers could be scouted from a purely numerical formula—which is why we're using an awesome statistic for kickers in this series. Cold Hard Football Facts introduced it back in 2006 and we're calling it the Carlson Rating, after the site contributor who devised it, Mike Carlson.

    The Carlson Rating gives kickers more credit for long conversions and penalizes them more for short misses, breaking down attempts into those less than 40 yards, those from 40 to 50 yards and those over 50 yards. We've applied the formula to 2011 kicks as part of our scores for these rankings.

    The rankings are part of the B/R NFL 1,000. The series offers an in-depth look at every position in the NFL, breaking down players' skills in a way never before seen on the Internet.

    B/R 1,000 rankings don't assess who had the best year or even who has the most potential. Rather, players—in this case, kickers—are judged on their current skills and mechanics, based on study of the 2011 NFL season only.

    The top 32 kickers have been scored in five criteria, including the Carlson Rating (Carlson's name for the stat is a bit more crude). In the slides that follow, we'll explain each player's strengths and weaknesses as the final ranking is revealed.

    Special thanks to ProFootballFocus.com for providing kicking statistics.

32. Ryan Longwell, Minnesota Vikings

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    Accuracy

    4

    Longwell connected on 75.9 percent of his kicks in 2011 but was just 6-of-11 between 40 and 49 yards. 

    Kickoff Power

    4

    Kickoffs ranked No. 31 in the NFL with an average of 65.2 yards.

    Field-Goal Power

    7

    Struggled in the 40- to 49-yard range but did well on kicks over 50 yards—connecting on 2-of-3 kicks at that distance.

    Hang Time

    4

    A top hang time of 4.20 seconds ranks Longwell among the worst kickers in the league.

    Carlson Rating

    5.5

    The combined ranking of Longwell's accuracy, with more weight for longer kicks, ranks him near the bottom of the NFL's kickers in this special statistic (see opening slide for more info).

    Overall

    24.5
    Longwell comes in as the NFL's worst kicker, based on his accuracy and inability to drive the ball deep on kickoffs. Opponents, on average, started their drives near the 24-yard line.

31. Shaun Suisham, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Accuracy

    5

    Hitting on just 76.5 percent of his kicks, Suisham's accuracy—especially outside of 30 yards—is a concern.

    Kickoff Power

    6

    Averaged 69.2 yards per kickoff—just slightly above average in 2011.

    Field-Goal Power

    6

    Attempted two kicks over 50 yards, hitting on one of them.

    Hang Time

    5

    His best was 4.40 seconds in 2011.

    Carlson Rating

    4

    His accuracy inside 29 yards (10-of-10) was great, but his two misses from 30 to 39 yards and his five misses (7-of-12) from 40 to 49 yards keep his score down.

    Overall

    26
    Suisham's short game is very good, but when asked to stretch the field and boot field goals over 40 yards, the Steelers are in trouble.

30. Jay Feely, Arizona Cardinals

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    Accuracy

    5

    Connected on almost 80 percent of his kicks in 2011 but missed two inside 39 yards and another two inside 49 yards.

    Kickoff Power

    7

    Pinned opponents to their 21.6-yard line on average, while kicking an average of 69.5 yards.

    Field-Goal Power

    6

    Feely isn't known for his range, as proved by the Cardinals only letting him trot out for two field goals of over 50 yards.

    Hang Time

    4

    A hang time of 4.20 seconds is the football equivalent of baseball's "Mendoza Line." Feely's average hang time, primarily in a dome, isn't on par with the rest of his game.

    Carlson Rating

    6

    Misses on kicks inside 49 yards keep Feely's score from being higher. 

    Overall

    28

    Has always been a solid kicker, but for playing in a dome you expect more accuracy on intermediate kicks between 30 and 49 yards. At that range, Feely was 9-of-13.

29. Lawrence Tynes, New York Giants

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    Accuracy

    5

    Tynes connected on 79.4 percent of his kicks in 2011, including 8-of-10 in the playoffs. His regular-season completion is below average.

    Kickoff Power

    5

    Averaged just 66.7 yards per kickoff, with opponents starting at their own 22.5-yard line on average.

    Field-Goal Power

    6

    Connected on 44.4 percent of his kicks 40 yards or longer. 

    Hang Time

    9

    A peak hang time of 4.70 seconds put him near the top of the NFL pecking order. Impressively, his best kicks actually came in an outdoor stadium.

    Carlson Rating

    3

    Tynes was brilliant in short range (23-of-25) but struggled with kicks past the 40-yard mark. 

    Overall

    28

    Tynes is like a golfer who is excellent on the greens but has a poor game off the tee. When put in close range he's deadly.

28. John Kasay, New Orleans Saints

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    Accuracy

    6

    Kasay hit on 100 percent of his kicks within 39 yards, going 20-of-20. 

    Kickoff Power

    5

    The Saints use punter Thomas Morstead to handle kickoffs.

    Field-Goal Power

    6

    Just 8-of-14 from distances greater than 40 yards during the 2011 season.

    Hang Time

    5

    Morstead handles kickoffs.

    Carlson Rating

    7

    Kasay's accuracy inside of 40 yards is superb, but kicking inside a dome hasn't helped his case for missing kicks longer than 40. 

    Overall

    29

    Kasay is a field-tested kicker who has good accuracy, but limited range. He is no longer an asset on kickoffs.

27. Olindo Mare, Carolina Panthers

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    Accuracy

    4

    Mare hit on 78.6 percent of his kicks in 2011 but missed three inside 39 yards.

    Kickoff Power

    6

    His kickoffs traveled an average of 68.3 yards. Opponents' average starting point was their 22-yard line. 

    Field-Goal Power

    6

    Just 8-of-11 on kicks from over 40 yards, with no made kicks over 50 yards.

    Hang Time

    6

    With a top hang time of 4.50 seconds, Mare comes in just over the league average.

    Carlson Rating

    7

    Accuracy inside 30 yards and between 40 to 49 yards was excellent, but he struggled to connect on intermediate kicks. 

    Overall

    29

    A solid all-around kicker, Mare's intermediate inaccuracy and lack of elite power keep his score down.

26. Graham Gano, Washington Redskins

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    Accuracy

    4

    Gano made 75.6 percent of his kicks in 2011, missing five within 39 yards.

    Kickoff Power

    5

    His kicks catch a ton of air, but his distance is merely average.

    Field-Goal Power

    7

    Hit on 12-of-17 kicks longer than 40 yards, with two misses longer than 50 yards. He did knock down the second-longest kick of the year—a 59-yarder.

    Hang Time

    8

    The ball doesn't go far, but his max caught a stunning 4.67 seconds of air.

    Carlson Rating

    5

    Gano's 2011 misses in the 30- to 39-yard range (5-of-9) keep his score from being much higher in this area.

    Overall

    29

    Gano's failure to rack up touchbacks could cause him to lose his job on kickoffs, but he's still solid as a field-goal kicker.

25. Neil Rackers, Houston Texans

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    Accuracy

    7

    Knocked down 83.3 percent of his kicks in 2011, including 26-of-27 inside 29 yards.

    Kickoff Power

    2

    Had just 22 touchbacks and an average of 64.8 yards per kick.

    Field-Goal Power

    8

    Was 9-of-15 on kicks over 40 yards, and hit on 4-of-6 over 50 yards.

    Hang Time

    5

    His peak 4.40-second hang time was at the league average.

    Carlson Rating

    7.5

    Rackers' accuracy ranks high, as does his range. On intermediate kicks (40 to 49 yards) he was just 5-of-9.

    Overall

    29.5

    A high-scoring kicker, Rackers is a consistent force in the kickoff and field-goal game. His work on kicks 40 yards or deeper could be improved, as could his kickoff range.

24. Billy Cundiff, Baltimore Ravens

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    Accuracy

    5

    Cundiff's 76.2 percent accuracy puts him in the middle of the pack among NFL kickers.

    Kickoff Power

    7

    With 47 touchbacks and an average kick of almost 70 yards in 2011, Cundiff comes in as a very good kickoff specialist.

    Field-Goal Power

    6

    Cundiff attempted six kicks over 50 yards this year—showing the Ravens have great confidence in his leg power. But he only made one.

    Hang Time

    7

    A top hang time of 4.50 seconds puts Cundiff near the top among 2011's kickers.

    Carlson Rating

    5

    Cundiff's failure to connect on kicks over 50 yards (1-of-6) hides the fact that he was spot-on inside 30 yards (11-of-11) and missed only five of 25 attempts between 30 and 50 yards.

    Overall

    30

    Cundiff does a lot well, but his accuracy on kicks over 50 yards keeps his score low.

23. Nick Folk, New York Jets

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    Accuracy

    4

    Folk made just 76 percent of his kicks in 2011. The Jets will expect more in 2012.

    Kickoff Power

    3

    Averaged 64.3 yards per kickoff, with 17 touchbacks. This was below the NFL average and allowed opponents, on average, to start near their own 21-yard line.

    Field-Goal Power

    7

    The Jets only asked Folk to attempt six kicks over 50 yards in 2011, and he made three. He was 5-of-7 when kicking between 40 and 50 yards.

    Hang Time

    9

    His superb hang time (maximum of 4.70 seconds) allowed the Jets' special teams gunners to get downfield and stymie runbacks.

    Carlson Rating

    7

    Five of his six misses came on attempts over 40 yards.

    Overall

    30

    Folk wasn't a huge problem for the Jets, but he wasn't a strength either. His intermediate accuracy (11-of-12 between 20 and 40 yards) is great, but deeper than that he's a question mark.

22. Josh Brown, St. Louis Rams

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    Accuracy

    4

    Hitting on just 75 percent of his kicks in 2011, Brown's accuracy—especially outside of 30 yards—is a concern.

    Kickoff Power

    6

    Slightly above average, with his kicks traveling an average of 67.2 yards. He had just 14 touchbacks.

    Field-Goal Power

    5

    Struggled on kicks over 40 yards, where he was just 8-of-14. Brown's power is above average, but it's worth noting he kicks mostly in a dome.

    Hang Time

    10

    Kicking in a dome helps, but Brown's best hang time was a tied for a league-best five seconds.

    Carlson Rating

    5

    Put it all together and Brown's score is right in the middle. He missed key kicks deep (0-of-2) and struggled some in that all-important 40- to 50-yard range.

    Overall

    30

    Brown kicks very well at home, but on the road he's rarely asked to kick field goals over 40 yards. The Rams are not comfortable with Brown's leg outside of the controlled environment.

21. Phil Dawson, Cleveland Browns

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    Accuracy

    6

    Dawson connected on 82.8 percent of his field-goal attempts, but missed three of his 13 attempts inside the 40-yard line. 

    Kickoff Power

    2

    Dawson is not a kickoff guy, averaging 62.7 yards per kickoff. The Browns could look to add a player to handle kickoff duties.

    Field-Goal Power

    9

    Dawson was asked to attempt eight kicks over 50 yards, and he nailed seven of them.

    Hang Time

    4

    Much like his kickoff power, Dawson doesn't show great hang time. His max was just 4.3 seconds.

    Carlson Rating

    10

    Since the statistic gives more credit to long kicks made and missed, Dawson scores very well. He hit on 14-of-16 kicks over 40 yards.

    Overall

    31

    Dawson has been in the NFL since 1998, so you're not going to rattle him. His accuracy and leg strength on field goals are still elite. Were he better on kickoffs, Dawson could be ranked in the top 10.

20. Nick Novak, San Diego Chargers

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    Accuracy

    6

    Novak's consistent inside the 40-yard line, hitting on 15-of-16 kicks in that range in 2011. Where he struggles is deeper than 40, where he falls to 12-of-18.

    Kickoff Power

    5

    Novak handles kickoff duties full-time, and in his 85 kicks he had 30 touchbacks and an average distance of 67 yards. This is good for right in the middle of the league.

    Field-Goal Power

    7

    The Chargers asked Novak to attempt seven kicks longer than 50 yards in 2011; he made four.

    Hang Time

    6

    Novak's hang time of 4.3 seconds comes in just over the league average. He consistently hit hang times of 4.1 and 4.2 seconds in 2011.

    Carlson Rating

    8

    Consistent short, and makes enough long kicks to keep the Chargers going back to him.

    Overall

    32

    Novak needs to make more from 50-plus to get to the next level.

19. Alex Henery, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Accuracy

    8

    If we were assigning letter grades, Henery would have a B+. He made 88.9 percent of his kicks during the 2011 season. This wasn't the best in the NFL, but it was damn close.

    Kickoff Power

    5

    Henery kicked off 85 times, with 31 touchbacks and an average of 67 yards. These are all solid numbers, but right around the midline.

    Field-Goal Power

    6

    Attempted just two kicks over 50 yards. The Eagles aren't asking Henery to extend his range.

    Hang Time

    5

    Henery is a line-drive kicker who has a maximum hang time of 4.4 seconds and a low of 3.6. This puts him right around the middle of the league.

    Carlson Rating

    8.5

    The fact that Henery successfully made 23-of-25 kicks inside 50 yards is remarkable. 

    Overall

    32.5

    Henery's score as a field-goal kicker would likely put him in the top 10, but his lack of power (on field goals and kickoffs) keeps his score low.

18. Mike Nugent, Cincinntai Bengals

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    Accuracy

    7

    Nugent connected on 85 percent of his kicks this year, a very solid number. 

    Kickoff Power

    7

    Primarily a field-goal kicker, but his kickoff power isn't a downfall. He averaged just over 68 yards per kick and had 39 touchbacks in 2011. Neither score is great, but he's ahead of the pack.

    Field-Goal Power

    5

    Was not asked to attempt any field goals over 50 yards during the regular season, and missed his only such attempt during the playoffs. The Bengals were in position; they just didn't try.

    Hang Time

    6

    A max hang time of 4.3 seconds puts Nugent near the bottom of the NFL for best hang time. A positive is that the opponent's average starting position is the 20-yard line.

    Carlson Rating

    8

    Missed six kicks all year, with three of them being in the 30- to 39-yard range. This helps out his score tremendously, but there's also the fact that his only 50-yard attempt came in the postseason.

    Overall

    33

    If you ranked Nugent purely on makes and misses he would be higher, but taking into account his range and his kickoff ability, he drops from a potential top-10 kicker.

17. Rian Lindell, Buffalo Bills

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    Accuracy

    7

    Lindell has a smaller sample size due to injury, but he hit on 86.7 percent of his attempts.

    Kickoff Power

    6

    Had 13 touchbacks in 43 kicks, a decent average compared with the rest of the NFL. The opposition's starting position was near the 21-yard line.

    Field-Goal Power

    5

    Partially due to being hurt, Lindell did not attempt any kicks past 50 yards in 2011. He has good range and an overall strong leg.

    Hang Time

    7

    Booted the ball high on kickoffs, with a max time of 4.5 seconds.

    Carlson Rating

    8

    Was 13-of-15 on the year—solid numbers for just eight weeks of work. His score is helped by the fact that he didn't kick any attempts over 50 yards and missed just once between the 40 and 49.

    Overall

    33

    With just two misses in eight games and an average kickoff of 65.5 yards, Lindell is a good all-around kicker.

16. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys

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    Accuracy

    7

    Bailey connected on 86.5 percent of his kicks in 2011, a very solid number. Helped by kicking indoors so often, but still—20-of-21 inside 40 yards is super.

    Kickoff Power

    5

    With 24 touchbacks and a 66.5-yard average, Bailey is average.

    Field-Goal Power

    7

    The Cowboys are not afraid to let Bailey bomb kicks—he attempted four over 50 yards and 12 in the 40- to 49-yard range. He made 12-of-16 attempts over 40 yards.

    Hang Time

    5

    Hang time ranges from 4.4 to 4.0 seconds, which is right on par.

    Carlson Rating

    9

    Bailey's high percentage of made kicks inside of 49 yards makes his score one of the highest of a player outside the top 10.

    Overall

    33

    An accurate kicker with the strength to consistently hit from distances over 40 yards. Under pressure, Bailey had ups and downs in 2011. His missed kick in Week 17 vs. the New York Giants knocked the Cowboys out of the playoff race.

15. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts

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    Accuracy

    7

    Vinatieri connected on 85.2 percent of his kicks in 2011, but his accuracy outside of 30 yards was limited. He missed four of 20 kicks in that range.

    Kickoff Power

    5

    Handed the kicking duties off to Pat McAfee. Based on how well Vinatieri kicked off previously, and taking into account the natural regression of skills, he's coming in with an average score.

    Field-Goal Power

    7

    The Colts aren't afraid to let Vinatieri try from outside 50 yards if they are inside Lucas Oil, but in the elements they prefer to keep him around 45 yards.

    Hang Time

    5

    With Vinatieri not kicking off during the 2011 season, we're grading him on the last full season in which he did kick off and then adjusting for time and age.

    Carlson Rating

    9

    Made 2-of-3 attempts outside of 50 yards in 2011, and was 8-of-10 in the 40- to 49-yard range.

    Overall

    33

    Vinatieri may very well go down as the best kicker of our generation, but as the Colts regressed in 2011 his opportunities were limited. The fact that he doesn't handle kickoffs also hurt his overall score.

14. Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks

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    Accuracy

    6

    With a success rate of 82.1 percent, Hauschka comes in a little lower than expected.

    Kickoff Power

    8
    Can boom the football. His average of 68.7 has Seattle pinning the opposing offense deep regularly. He had 26 touchbacks on the year.

    Field-Goal Power

    7
    Never one to back down from a chance to kick the ball, Hauschka is trusted inside 55 yards regularly. He hit on 50 percent of his kicks deeper than 50 yards.

    Hang Time

    5
    With a max hang time of 4.4, he is right on par with the average. He only fell below a four-second hang time once in 2011.

    Carlson Rating

    7.5
    Hauschka's score was brought down by a miss inside of 29 yards (6-of-7) and two more misses in the range of 30 to 49 yards. 

    Overall

    33.5
    One of my favorite kickers to watch. He has a clean follow-through, and most importantly he hustles downfield after kickoffs. Not only is he a very good kicker, he had two tackles on the year.


13. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers

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    Accuracy

    8

    Crosby did a great job in 2011, connecting on 90 percent of his kicks and knocking through an impressive 15-of-15 in the 30 to 39 range.

    Kickoff Power

    5
    Can run hot and cold, but his average of 66.5 yards per kick was average in 2011. He had 52 touchbacks, which is very good.

    Field-Goal Power

    9
    In three attempts over 50 yards this year, Crosby connected on two. He has very good range naturally, and kicking outdoors factors in.

    Hang Time

    5
    A max hang time of 4.5 seconds is good for a tie at No. 11.

    Carlson Rating

    8.5
    Was 20-of-21 on kicks inside of 40 yards in 2011.

    Overall

    35.5
    Crosby could easily be a top-10 kicker in 2011. His biggest area to improve upon would be his kickoff distances and his hang time.


12. Ryan Succop, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Accuracy

    6

    Succop connected on 85.7 percent of his kicks in 2011, which is near the middle of the league. He was 100 percent on kicks over 50 yards, but struggled to connect on kicks between 30 and 50 yards.

    Kickoff Power

    5

    With 30 touchbacks and an average of 65.3 yards, Succop is right on pace with the rest of the NFL's kickers. He's neither great nor a disadvantage.

    Field-Goal Power

    10
    Succop showed great range in 2011, connecting on three kicks over 50 yards. The Chiefs aren't afraid to trot out No. 6, even in the unpredictable Missouri weather at Arrowhead.

    Hang Time

    6
    Succop could work to get the ball in the air higher, as his maximum hang time was just 4.40 seconds. That's just above the league average, but he has potential to be much better.

    Carlson Rating

    9
    Making all of his attempts over 50 yards helps out a lot, as does knocking down 14-of-15 attempts inside 40 yards.

    Overall

    36
    Succop is on the verge of being a top-10 kicker. With a better percentage inside the 40- 50-yard mark, and with a little improvement on kickoffs, he'll be there.


11. Connor Barth, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Accuracy

    10

    Barth had the second-best field-goal percentage of any player—connecting on 92.9 percent of his kicks. For a player who kicks primarily outdoors, this is remarkable.

    Kickoff Power

    5

    Isn't quite as impressive when kicking off. The Buccaneers moved kickoff duties to Michael Koenen in 2011. When Barth was kicking off, he averaged 61.5 yards per kick.

    Field-Goal Power

    8
    Barth has good range, but the team likes to keep him inside of 50 yards when at all possible. Tampa's offense was miserable in 2011, which limited his ability to show off his range.

    Hang Time

    5
    Averaged a hang time of four seconds when he was kicking off. This is a big part of the reason Tampa moved the kickoff duties elsewhere.

    Carlson Rating

    10
    Barth missed just two kicks all year—both longer than 40 yards. No player in the league had a higher Carlson score.

    Overall

    38
    If the grades were for field-goal kicking only, a strong case could be made for Connor Barth. He was lights-out in terms of accuracy, but comes in low on the kickoff side of things.

10. Matt Bryant, Atlanta Falcons

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    Accuracy

    10

    No kicker in the NFL had a better accuracy rating, as Bryant made 93.1 percent of his kicks. He was 27-of-29 overall, with his only misses coming in the 40- to 50-yard range.

    Kickoff Power

    5
    Has had his kickoff duties taken away, as Atlanta wants him focusing on field goals at this point in his career. Were he to be pressed back into duty, Bryant's leg and experience would put him near the middle of the league.

    Field-Goal Power

    10
    Kicking in a dome helps, but he has a cannon. His long on the year was 51 yards, but he has the range to easily push back to 55 yards. He didn't miss either of his attempts outside of 50 yards in 2011.

    Hang Time

    5
    Bryant's days kicking off are likely over, but when he was still kicking off his max and average hang time placed him right around the league median.

    Carlson Rating

    9
    When a guy doesn't miss on any attempt over 50 yards, and misses just two kicks the entire year, he's going to do pretty well here.

    Overall

    39
    If Bryant made any contributions at all as a kickoff specialist, he would likely have come in as a top-five kicker. As it is, his overall value is decreased slightly, but he remains one of the best kickers in the game.


9. Rob Bironas, Tennessee Titans

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    Accuracy

    8

    Bironas connected on 90 percent of his kicks—a solid A- for 2011. He was close to automatic, with just three misses total.

    Kickoff Power

    5
    With 44 touchbacks and an average of 67.1 yards per kickoff, Bironas' value increases in combination with his talent as a field-goal kicker.

    Field-Goal Power

    9
    Good for 85.7 percent of his seven attempts longer than 50 yards, and knocked down a long kick of 53 yards.

    Hang Time

    7
    Bironas' max hang time of 4.5 seconds is above average. He consistently hit the 4.3 and 4.4 range in 2011.

    Carlson Rating

    10
    By way of missing just three kicks all season—one each from 30 to 39, 40 to 49 and 50-plus yards—Bironas has an incredibly high score here.

    Overall

    39
    Chris Berman has ruined Rob Bironas for me, as all I can hear is "My Bironas" when I watch him play. That said, Rob is one hell of a kicker. His accuracy and power are near the best in the game, and his contributions on kickoffs gives him the edge over guys who specialize on field goals.


8. Jason Hanson, Detroit Lions

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    Accuracy

    7

    Hanson ranked No. 13 in the NFL, connecting on 86.2 percent of his 29 attempts in 2011. Were it not for two misses from 40 to 49 yards, he would be markedly higher.

    Kickoff Power

    6
    Kicking off isn't Hanson's specialty, but he did have 46 touchbacks on 101 kicks and knocked the ball an average of 67.1 yards per kick.

    Field-Goal Power

    9
    Hanson's still got it after 19 seasons. He was good on 5-of-7 attempts over 50 yards, and had a long of 51 yards in 2011.

    Hang Time

    7.5
    His hang time of 4.6 seconds is getting up there. He wasn't consistently hitting the 4.6 mark in 2011, but he's still among the best at getting height on the ball.

    Carlson Rating

    9.5
    Missing just four kicks all year gives him an elite score. Were it not for two misses at the 40- to 49-yard range, he would have a perfect 10.

    Overall

    39
    Hanson remains one of the more stable and consistent kickers. His range hasn't regressed at a noticeable rate and he's still a threat on kickoffs. The Lions have a great player in their captain.


7. Matt Prater, Denver Broncos

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    Accuracy

    6

    Hitting on 77.8 percent of his kicks, Prater's accuracy—especially outside of 30 yards—is a concern.

    Kickoff Power

    10
    Prater may be in the running for the strongest leg outside of Oakland. He had 69 touchbacks on the year and an average of 69.1 yards per kick.

    Field-Goal Power

    10
    Prater has serious range—and a little help from Mother Nature. His 59-yard kick vs. the Chicago Bears was tied for the second longest of 2011. And it may have been good from 65. He was 3-of-4 at 50 yards or farther in 2011.

    Hang Time

    10
    The air at Mile High helps, but Prater's maximum hang time of 4.6 seconds is the near the top of the NFL.

    Carlson Rating

    4
    Misses on kicks longer than 40 yards really added up. Prater was just 3-of-7 between 40 and 49 yards.

    Overall

    40
    If there were a way to grade clutch skills here, Prater would get a perfect 10. Prater has a slight advantage kicking in the thin air at Mile High Stadium, but even on the road he's among the NFL's better long-distance kickers. If Prater can lock down his accuracy, watch out.


6. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots

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    Accuracy

    8

    Gostkowski hit on 86.8 percent of his kicks in 2011. He was an impressive 9-of-11 on kicks between 40 and 50 yards.

    Kickoff Power

    7
    With 51 touchbacks and an average of 66.5 yards, Gostkowski is among the better kickoff artists in the game. 

    Field-Goal Power

    8
    The Patriots didn't have many opportunities to show off his leg in 2011, but Gostkowski has range that extends to 55 yards.

    Hang Time

    10
    His maximum hang time of five seconds was second best in the NFL and tops among regular kickers (punter Matt Turk had a kickoff go for 5.1 seconds).

    Carlson Rating

    7.5
    Gostkowski was solid at every level. He had exactly one miss in every yardage breakdown (30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50-plus).

    Overall

    40.5
    The Patriots know how to find kickers. Gostkowski may not get mentioned with the top kickers in the game because he doesn't have the strongest leg, but his accuracy on field goals and kickoff hang time make him elite.


5. Dan Carpenter, Miami Dolphins

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    Accuracy

    7

    Carpenter ranked in the middle of the NFL with a success rate of 84.8 percent. Were it not for two misses on three attempts longer than 50 yards, he would be higher.

    Kickoff Power

    9

    Had just 39 touchbacks, but he only kicked off 68 times in 2011. His average distance of 69.6 yards ranked him among the league leaders.

    Field-Goal Power

    9
    Carpenter tied Mason Crosby for the fourth-longest field goal of the year with a 58-yarder. He has exceptional range, and the Dolphins will be wise to use that more in 2012.

    Hang Time

    7
    Carpenter had a max hang time of 4.5 seconds, and his hang time allowed the Dolphins to pin offenses back near the 22-yard line on average.

    Carlson Rating

    8.5
    Consistent at every distance up to 50 yards.

    Overall

    40.5
    An underrated kicker with a strong all-around game, Carpenter's name would have registered Pro Bowl consideration in 2011 if he were on an offense that allowed him more opportunities.


4. Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears

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    Accuracy

    10

    Gould missed just four kicks all year, making 87.5 percent of his attempts. He made 6-of-6 outside 50 yards.

    Kickoff Power

    7
    Has a strong leg, as shown by his 42 touchbacks and kickoff average of 67.7 yards. The Bears are kicking into the wind half of the game, too.

    Field-Goal Power

    10
    Automatic from outside of 50 yards—a rarity. His long of 57 yards was good for sixth best in the NFL.

    Hang Time

    5
    Gould has great distance, but his hang time needs work. His best for 2011 was just 4.4 seconds.

    Carlson Rating

    10
    Without a miss inside of 40 yards or deeper than 50, Gould's score was among the highest. If not for four misses in the 40- to 49-yard range he would have ranked as No. 1 in this stat.

    Overall

    42
    When you think of the best kickers, it's unlikely Robbie Gould gets much mention outside of Chicago—and maybe even inside Chicago. An All-Pro selection way back in 2006, Gould had a good enough 2011 to be up for consideration again.


3. Josh Scobee, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Accuracy

    9

    Knocked down 92 percent of his kicks, with just two misses in 2011.

    Kickoff Power

    10
    For such a small person, at 6'1" and 191 lbs, Scobee can kick the crap out of the football. His average of 71 yards led the NFL in 2011, and his 37 touchbacks on 61 kicks is up there in terms of percentage downed inside the end zone.

    Field-Goal Power

    8
    The Jaguars let him try from any distance inside of 60 yards, and he delivered by making 5-of-6 attempts from 50 yards or more. His long of 2011 was a 55-yarder that tied him for eighth best.

    Hang Time

    6
    The only area where he could really improve, his hang time maximum of 4.30 seconds is just barely above the league average.

    Carlson Rating

    10
    Scobee didn't miss inside of 40 yards all season, and then missed just twice on kicks longer than 40 yards. His 2011 season was damn near perfect.

    Overall

    43
    Scobee had my vote for AFC All-Pro kicker through most of the season. His accuracy was the best in the conference by two full percentage points. Had he scored a better hang time throughout the year, he would be our No. 1 kicker.


2. David Akers, San Francisco 49ers

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    Accuracy

    10

    Factoring in the playoffs, Akers was good on 90 percent of his kicks in 2011. Take just the playoffs into account, where the pressure is highest, and he was a perfect 4-for-4.

    Kickoff Power

    9
    Akers defied logic by booting for an average of 69.7 yards (fourth best) in 2011, despite playing home games in the horrible San Francisco wind, and forcing 54 touchbacks on 106 kicks. 

    Field-Goal Power

    9
    Ask him to kick over 50 yards; he doesn't care. Akers dropped down 7-of-9 attempts, including a long of 55 yards.

    Hang Time

    6
    Akers' hang time could be better; he hit 4.3 seconds at best. This alone keeps him from being the highest graded kicker in the game.

    Carlson Rating

    10
    On 50 attempts this year, Akers made a record 45 kicks. His 2011 regular season was phenomenal, but his performance in the postseason was more than anyone could have asked for.

    Overall

    44
    Akers' record of 45 kicks made in a single season may not be broken for some time. He grades out as the best kicker in the game if you eliminate hang time. 

1. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders

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    Accuracy

    8

    Janikowski's average of 87.5 percent ranked him near the top. He has always been known as a little wild, but he played under more control in 2011 and hit 28-of-32 kicks.

    Kickoff Power

    10
    No one is better. Janikowski's average of 64.7 doesn't truly reflect just how strong his leg is. He drilled 32-of-80 kicks for touchbacks. 

    Field-Goal Power

    10
    Led the NFL with a 63-yard field goal against Denver in Week 1, three points that decided the game (23-20, Oakland). He attempted a league-leading 10 kicks over 50 yards, making seven.

    Hang Time

    7.5
    Posted a very respectable maximum hang time of 4.6 seconds but could stand to be more consistent here. 

    Carlson Rating

    10
    Despite having a less-than-elite conversion rate in 2011, Janikowski was perfect inside 40 yards and then missed just once for the 40- to 49-yard range. His seven kicks made at 50-plus yards was tied for best in the game.

    Overall

    45.5
    When you combine power, accuracy and intimidation, you get Sebastian Janikowski. He led the league in distance, attempts over 50 yards and in small children terrified by his sheer mass.


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