B/R NFL 1000: Ranking the Top 32 Kickers from 2015

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 1, 2016

B/R NFL 1000: Ranking the Top 32 Kickers from 2015

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    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    At the end of the 2015 NFL season, who was the best kicker in the game? We're not talking about who made the Pro Bowl or even who got the All-Pro votes. Who was really, truly the best? Forget reputation and how much money each player makes. We want cold, hard analysis that comes from watching the games and grading the players. 

    That's what the B/R NFL 1000 is for, and it's back for another year. 

    The B/R 1000 metric is based heavily on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance for a possible best score of 100.

    Potential and career accomplishments are not taken into consideration.

    We've judged kickers on kicking power (45 points), accuracy (45) and the overall value of the position relative to the other spots on the field (four points). The maximum score for this position is 94.

    In the case of ties, our team asked, "Which player would I rather have on my team?" and set the rankings accordingly.

    Subjective? Yes, but ties are no fun.

    A team of experienced evaluators (Dan Bazal, Luke Easterling, Cian Fahey, Duke Manyweather, Matt Miller and Marshal Miller) scouted each player with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study from our team. 

     

    Players' heights, weights, seasons played and sack totals from NFL.comAll other statistics from Pro Football Focus.

32. Connor Barth, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    35/45

    Connor Barth signed with the Buccaneers in early October after they released kicker Kyle Brindza. He has adequate but not stellar leg strength. The setting has to be just right for him to connect on field goals over 50 yards.

    Kick Accuracy

    36/45

    Extremely accurate up to 40 yards, Barth was a perfect 17-of-17 on kicks inside of the 40. Once he gets past that 40-yard threshold, he starts to lose control. His lack of elite leg drive makes it to where he has to exert more force on kicks of distance, which in turn takes away from his accuracy.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    75/94

31. Zach Hocker, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    37/45

    Zach Hocker did not have a good year in 2015. New Orleans parted ways with the 24-year-old rookie after he missed two field goals against Atlanta in Week 6. He later played two games with the Rams but only attempted one field goal. He lacks the leg drive to be effective from beyond 50 yards.

    Kick Accuracy

    35/45

    Hocker finished the season making only 10 of his 14 field-goal attempts, which includes going 1-of-3 on kicks from 40 to 49 yards. He will need to improve immeasurably if he wants to continue to be a professional kicker in the NFL.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    76/94

30. Caleb Sturgis, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    40/45

    After losing his job to an undrafted rookie in Miami, Caleb Sturgis signed with Philadelphia before its Week 4 game against Washington. Sturgis doesn’t have a booming leg that will consistently knock home kicks over 50 yards and wasn’t able to get sufficient depth on his kickoffs. That led to 29 returns, which is far too many given today’s rules.

    Kick Accuracy

    32/45

    Sturgis is shaky at best when attempting field goals. Not only does he struggle on long attempts, but he isn’t even dependable on shorter kicks. In his career, he's only made 83 percent of his attempts between 30 and 39 yards.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    76/94

29. Dan Carpenter, Buffalo Bills

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    Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    40/45

    Dan Carpenter might not have as powerful of a leg as he used to, but he still kicks with a heavy enough foot for Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan to call upon him for field goals of 50-plus yards. However, he isn't as effective as a kickoff man, which forced the Bills to carry two kickers for most of the past two seasons. During the one game in 2015 where Carpenter had to kick off, he averaged only 53.3 yards per kick, which is dreadful.

    Kick Accuracy

    33/45

    Every year Carpenter seems to be near the lower half of the league when it comes to accuracy. This past season, his 85.2 percent success rate placed him 21st. He just about lost his job after missing a 30-yard attempt against the Giants in Week 4.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    77/94

28. Nick Novak, Houston Texans

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    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    36/45

    With a career long of only 53 yards, Nick Novak has never been known as a strong-legged kicker. His average of 67 yards per kickoff, which led to only 23 touchbacks in 62 attempts, also shows his inability to pound the ball high and deep.

    Kick Accuracy

    37/45

    Novak was solid this past season from within 50 yards, making all of his attempts between 20 and 49 yards out (16-of-16). More than 50 yards is a different story. Novak has to put so much effort into getting the ball to the uprights that it takes away from his accuracy.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    77/94

27. Jason Myers, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    43/45

    It was an up-and-down year for rookie Jason Myers. He'd string a couple of good games together but follow with a bad one. One thing he showed was his powerful leg, booting a 58-yard field goal in just his second career game.

    Kick Accuracy

    30/45

    Myers will need to improve his accuracy if he wants to stay in this league. He made an abysmal 82.1 percent of his extra points. On the plus side, he was more accurate on his field goals, hitting 86.7 percent.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    77/94

26. Cody Parkey, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    41/45

    After an excellent rookie season, Cody Parkey wasn’t as successful in his sophomore campaign. A groin injury limited him to three games, and he couldn't show off his strong leg.

    Kick Accuracy

    33/45

    Parkey connected on three of his four attempts in 2015 but proved in 2014 that he has what it takes to be a reliable kicker in the NFL.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    78/94

25. Shayne Graham, Atlanta Falcons

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    36/45

    At this stage of his career, Shayne Graham is best used as an injury replacement for a team in need of a veteran kicker. He did just that this past season, filling in for Matt Bryant with the Atlanta Falcons. Graham struggles with kicks longer than 45 yards and can't generate the consistent leg drive to be effective from deep.

    Kick Accuracy

    38/45

    Even during his prime, Graham wasn’t the most accurate kicker. He is always good for a shank here and there. This past season, he missed two of his 13 attempts.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    78/94

24. Greg Zuerlein, St. Louis Rams

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Kick Power

    42/45

    Greg Zuerlein might have the most powerful leg in the NFL. Distance has never been the issue with him; it has always been accuracy. He even booted a career-long 61-yarder in 2015.

    Kick Accuracy

    32/45

    Sharpness and efficiency are what Zuerlein lacks. His inability to hone in and consistently drive the ball between the uprights can make him a liability. Having a huge leg doesn’t do you any good when you go only 3-of-9 on kicks of more than 50 yards.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    78/94

23. Ryan Succop, Tennessee Titans

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    Stacy Revere/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    37/45

    Ryan Succop isn’t known for having one of the most potent legs in the league, as he connected on only one of his three attempts of more than 50 yards. When it comes to kickoffs, he is one of the league’s best, averaging 70.5 yards per kick.

    Kick Accuracy

    37/45

    Last year was Succop’s most accurate season, as he made 87.5 percent of his attempts. He was perfect on kicks of fewer than 50 yards and finished the campaign 14-of-16 on field goals.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    78/94

22. Randy Bullock, New York Jets

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    42/45

    Another kicker with a big leg but a lack of precision, Randy Bullock is able to boom the ball off the tee on kickoffs as well as have it explode off his foot on deep field-goal attempts. His 70-yard average on kickoffs placed ninth in the league.

    Kick Accuracy

    33/45

    Short or long, it’s always a nail-biting situation when Bullock is sent onto the field to kick a field goal. Four misses on 12 attempts of more than 40 yards are too many, and he will need to improve this area of his game if he wants to continue to kick in the NFL.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    79/94

21. Josh Lambo, San Diego Chargers

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    Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    40/45

    A young kicker with a strong leg, Josh Lambo showed that he has the leg strength to make kicks up to around 60 yards. He is also great at kickoffs. The 25-year-old not only kicks for distance, but he gets excellent height under his kicks as well.

    Kick Accuracy

    35/45

    Lambo struggled on kicks between 40 and 49 yards, making only 11 of his 16 attempts. He was actually more accurate on deeper efforts, knocking in four out of his five kicks of 50 yards or more. Lambo also had issues on extra points, missing four.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    79/94

20. Nick Folk, New York Jets

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    Al Pereira/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    40/45

    Before going down with a quadriceps injury midway through the season, Nick Folk was having a solid year for the New York Jets. He has superb leg strength and is comfortable kicking the ball up to around 55 yards. He made both of his attempts from more than 50 yards this past season.

    Kick Accuracy

    37/45

    While Folk has continued to develop into a more accurate kicker, he still tends to struggle with mid-range kicks. He only made 50 percent of his attempts between 40 and 49 yards this past season and finished the year connecting on 81.3 percent of his overall tries.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    81/94

19. Adam Vinatieri, Indianapolis Colts

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    Joe Robbins/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    35/45

    Old reliable, Adam Vinatieri doesn’t have the power in his leg that he once did, but he is still one of the most accurate, clutch kickers in the NFL. He made four out of his five attempts of 50 yards or more.

    Kick Accuracy

    42/45

    After missing his first two kicks of the year, Vinatieri finished the season rattling off 25 straight. For the second year in a row, he ended up connecting on more than 92 percent of his kicks, proving that he is still one of the most reliable kickers in the league.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    81/94

18. Josh Brown, New York Giants

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    36/45

    Josh Brown’s ability as a kickoff specialist is surprisingly below average, given his ability as a field-goal kicker. He averaged just 64.6 yards per kickoff and was only able to put 37 kicks in the opposing end zone for a touchback. To do that on 93 kickoffs is well below the league average.

    Kick Accuracy

    42/45

    Brown’s accuracy was above the line in 2015—he nailed 93.8 percent of his attempts. That includes perfect accuracy on kicks of 50 yards or more (3-of-3) and hitting every attempt of less than 40 yards (19-of-19). His mid-range accuracy has to be more consistent, though, as he missed two kicks between 40 and 49 yards (8-of-10).

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    82/94

17. Robbie Gould, Chicago Bears

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    41/45

    With an average of just 63.4 yards, Robbie Gould may be nearing the end of his kickoff days. He struggles to pin offenses deep and had just 39 touchbacks on the season. That’s putting opposing quarterbacks on their own 23.4-yard line on average to start drives.

    Kick Accuracy

    37/45

    On 38 attempts, Gould connected on only 32, good for 84.2 percent. His four misses on kicks of 40 yards or more remain the major concern. Gould went until Week 8 without a miss but then struggled to be consistent throughout the rest of the season.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    82/94

16. Chris Boswell, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    37/45

    Chris Boswell’s first season in the NFL ended with an average kickoff of 66.3 yards, which falls below the average. He also struggled with returnable kicks—opponents returned 63.5 percent of his kickoffs. And with just two attempts of 50 yards or more, Boswell’s range maxed out around 49 yards.

    Kick Accuracy

    42/45

    By connecting on 90.6 percent of his kicks, Boswell was one of the NFL’s best last season. That only included two kicks of 50 yards or more, though, and he missed three of his 12 attempts from between 40 and 49 yards. His made field goals were impressive, but his degree of difficulty was among the easiest in the league.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    83/94

15. Mike Nugent, Cincinnati Bengals

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    41/45

    With an average of 68.5 yards per kickoff, Mike Nugent is above the league average. He’s shown consistent power on kickoffs, pinning offenses back to an average start line of 20.6. Nugent’s ability to put the ball in the end zone is strong—he had 42 touchbacks—but opponents returned 52.8 percent of his kickoffs.

    Kick Accuracy

    38/45

    With a success rate of just 82.1 percent on field goals, Nugent’s accuracy is in question. He missed three kicks in the 40- to 49-yard range and another one deeper than 50 yards. Nugent goes through hot and cold streaks but largely struggles at home.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    83/94

14. Dustin Hopkins, Washington

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    38/45

    On kickoffs and field-goal attempts, Dustin Hopkins has a slightly above-average leg. His kickoffs went for 67.9 yards on average, and he held opponents to an average start of the 20.4-yard line. With 52 touchbacks on 79 kicks, Hopkins has proved he can pin offenses deep on kickoffs.

    Kick Accuracy

    41/45

    With 28 attempts in 2015, Hopkins connected on 89.3 percent of them, good for 25 makes. On kicks 49 yards or shorter he had just one miss—in Week 13 against Dallas. Take away his two misses on attempts of 50 yards or more and Hopkins had just one miss all season.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    83/94

13. Phil Dawson, San Francisco 49ers

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    Michael Zagaris/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    38/45

    As a 40-year-old in 2015, Phil Dawson was once again rock-solid as a field-goal kicker. The San Francisco 49ers only had him kick off for three games, in which he averaged 59.6 yards per kick. On distance field goals, he connected on all three attempts of 50 yards or more.

    Kick Accuracy

    42/45

    On 27 attempts, Dawson hit 24 with two misses coming in the 40- to 49-yard range (6-of-8). He missed one attempt in the Monday night season opener and didn’t miss again until Week 15. Kicking in Santa Clara, California, doesn’t require navigating the winds like Candlestick Park did, but Dawson’s reliability remains the same.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    84/94

12. Cairo Santos, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    39/45

    In his second season as a pro, Cairo Santos saw his kickoff average improve from 65.8 yards per kickoff to 67.2. While he’s not in the upper crust of power kickers, Santos did secure 40 touchbacks on 89 kickoffs. On deep field-goal attempts, he connected on half, nailing four of his eight kicks from 50 yards or more.

    Kick Accuracy

    41/45

    Including playoffs, Santos once again kicked at 83.3 percent—exactly what he did in 2014. On short and intermediate kicks, he was solid while connecting on 17 of 18 attempts shorter than 40 yards. Outside of that range, he struggled, missing six kicks of 40 yards or more. 

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    84/94

11. Blair Walsh, Minnesota Vikings

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    42/45

    With an average kickoff depth of 70.7 yards, Blair Walsh is among the best in the game. He added 47 touchbacks and kept returners at the 22.6-yard line for an average start. A great part of Walsh’s game is his ability to handle the cold. In the final two weeks of the season—at Green Bay and the playoff game in the freezing temperatures at home—he averaged more than 70 yards per kickoff.

    Kick Accuracy

    39/45

    Walsh’s 34 made field goals were the most in the NFL, and his 39 attempts were the second-most. An 87.2 percent field-goal success rate kept him in our top 11. With two misses in the 30- to 39-yard range (13-of-15), there is a concern about his consistency on kicks that should be money.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    85/94

10. Mason Crosby, Green Bay Packers

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    40/45

    Mason Crosby seemed to have one of the strongest legs in college football—until one realizes he was enjoying the thin air at the University of Colorado. In the NFL, he has become a solid distance kicker on kickoffs—averaging 68.7 yards in 2015—and a reliable long-distance field-goal artist. He connected on four of five attempts of 50 yards or more this past season.

    Kick Accuracy

    41/45

    On 28 attempts, Crosby hit 24. His second miss of the season didn’t come until Week 10, after which he missed two kicks on the road. He has a smooth leg and follow-through, which shouldn’t be discounted by the offense he has setting him up each week.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    85/94

9. Chandler Catanzaro, Arizona Cardinals

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    40/45

    Chandler Catanzaro’s leg demands respect on kickoffs. He averaged 69.1 yards per kickoff and scored 50 touchbacks on 99 kickoffs. As a deep field-goal kicker, he was rarely tested—just one attempt beyond 50 yards—but he went 6-of-7 in the 40- to 49-yard range.

    Kick Accuracy

    42/45

    Catanzaro’s second campaign in the NFL finished with a streak of nine regular-season games without a missed field goal. On 30 kicks, he connected on 28 of his attempts and hit on every one inside 39 yards. Kicking indoors helps his success rate, and having just one attempt of 50 yards or more makes this feat easier, but Catanzaro’s percentage (93.3) speaks for itself.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    86/94

8. Matt Prater, Detroit Lions

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    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    40/45

    Matt Prater was impressive off the bat in Detroit in 2015. His power game is not a strength on kickoffs, though. Prater had just four kickoffs on the year and averaged just 55.8 yards. He’s best served as a field-goal kicker only, and he was 5-of-6 on attempts of more than 50 yards.

    Kick Accuracy

    43/45

    Prater went until Week 15 before missing a field-goal attempt. He finished the season 22-of-24 and was comfortable kicking both outdoors and in the comfy confines of Ford Field. Prater’s poise saw him get back to his pre-2014 levels—a season in which he appeared to have the yips while he connected on 82.1 percent of his attempts.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    87/94

7. Sebastian Janikowski, Oakland Raiders

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    Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    42/45

    Even at age 38, Sebastian Janikowski is one of the strongest kickers in the NFL. With an average of 67.7 yards per kickoff, you don’t get the full Janikowski treatment, but his 80 percent accuracy on field-goal attempts of more than 50 yards (4-of-5) shares insight into how strong he still is.

    Kick Accuracy

    41/45

    Janikowski saw his accuracy dip in 2015—down to 80.8 percent. That came by way of a miss at every level except kicks shorter than 29 yards. In Week 5 against Denver, he missed two of three attempts.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    87/94

6. Dan Bailey, Dallas Cowboys

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    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    41/45

    With an average kickoff distance of 67.4 yards, Dan Bailey saw his average dip from a career high of 68.2 yards in 2014. As a field-goal kicker, he was above the line on deep kicks. He nailed five of six attempts of 50 yards or more.

    Kick Accuracy

    43/45

    Bailey was a high-accuracy kicker without many attempts, hitting 30 of 32. Credit the Dallas offense for that. He was automatic below 39 yards (19-of-19) and saw both misses come on the road.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    88/94

5. Brandon McManus, Denver Broncos

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    Rob Leiter/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    42/45

    With a regular-season kickoff average of 68 yards, Brandon McManus ranked near the league average. Kicking in the thin Denver air for half his games also helped that number reach higher than it would if he were kicking in San Francisco half the season.

    Kick Accuracy

    42/45

    With 85.7 percent accuracy on kicks during the regular season, McManus was above average but not elite. He was automatic on intermediate kicks but missed five attempts of 40 yards or more. Kick difficulty did factor in, which is why he rates at 42 points in a year when he went 30-of-35.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    88/94

4. Graham Gano, Carolina Panthers

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    Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    44/45

    Graham Gano can boot kickoffs as well as anyone in the league. His average of 72 yards was tied for best among kickers active for all 17 weeks—and he did it kicking outdoors. He threw in 69 touchbacks as well. Gano has deep range on field goals, connecting on three of five attempts of 50 yards or more.

    Kick Accuracy

    41/45

    Gano connected on just 85.3 percent of his kicks in 2015 and particularly struggled on mid-range attempts, with three of his misses coming between 30 and 49 yards. He was still reliable but didn't have the automatic leg on kicks inside of 50 yards that other top-ranked players had.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    89/94

3. Steven Hauschka, Seattle Seahawks

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Kick Power

    42/45

    Kicking outside in Seattle can come with all sorts of issues—including the wind and rain. Steven Hauschka continues to handle both well, and when it comes to distance kicking, he’s in the top tier. His 68.2 yards per kickoff isn’t great, but it comes in as above average. Add in that he was a perfect 6-of-6 on kicks of 50 yards or more, and Hauschka is one of the best deep kickers in the game.

    Kick Accuracy

    44/45

    Hauschka’s 93.5 percent accuracy rating was good for No. 3 overall in the NFL last season for players who were active all 17 weeks. Because we factored kick difficulty into the scores, he doesn’t come in at a perfect 45 points, but he’s close. His only struggles came on attempts of 40 to 49 yards, where he was 7-of-9 on the year.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    90/94

2. Stephen Gostkowski, New England Patriots

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    Kick Power

    41/45

    Stephen Gostkowski has been automatic since replacing Adam Vinatieri as the kicker in New England back in 2006. A big part of that is his leg strength. He averaged 70.2 yards per kickoff (above 70 is a threshold for excellence) and was 4-of-5 on field goals of 50 yards or more.

    Kick Accuracy

    45/45

    Gostkowski missed just three kicks all season (33-of-36)—one over 50 yards and two between 40 and 49 yards. He’s been clutch in big moments, in bad weather and despite any odds thrown his way. His 91.7 percent accuracy puts him in the top five overall for qualifying kickers.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    90/94

1. Justin Tucker, Baltimore Ravens

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    Kick Power

    45/45

    Justin Tucker routinely ranks as one of the best kickers in the game, and his leg strength is a big reason why. On both kickoffs and field goals, his range is top-tier. He averaged 72 yards per kickoff—tied for No. 2 in the league and best among active kickers all season. Tucker was only 4-of-10 on field goals in the 50-yard range, but the Ravens also asked him to attempt ridiculously long field goals to end halves and games.

    Kick Accuracy

    43/45

    As mentioned, the struggling Ravens put Tucker in some odd situations. Take away his six misses on 50-plus-yard attempts, and he was 33-of-34 on the season. This is one of the most reliable, accurate kickers the NFL has to offer. It just requires context and not pure number-gazing to see that.

    Position Value

    4/4

    Overall

    92/94