Will "Moneyball" ever work in the NFL? Can punters 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 and punters will be the most likely to be scouted from a purely numerical formula.
We've set out to find the best punters in the NFL—based on distance, accuracy and the ability to pin an offense deep inside its own 20-yard line.
To find out who's best, we've determined what makes up a great punter and how well each 2011 starter represents those traits. The quest comes as part of the B/R NFL 1,000. The new 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, punters—are judged on their current skills and mechanics, based on film study of the 2011 NFL preseason and regular season only.
After hours spent scouting every starter and every potential starter, the top 32 punters have been scored in five criteria (more on the criteria here). 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 punting statistics.