While kickers are often viewed as an afterthought on draft day, that doesn’t mean you necessarily should consider them that way. Let’s take a look at my current rankings:
- Sebastian Janikowski – Oakland Raiders
- David Akers – Philadelphia Eagles
- Stephen Gostkowski – New England Patriots
- Mason Crosby – Green Bay Packers
- Neil Rackers – Houston Texans
- Nate Kaeding – San Diego Chargers
- Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis Colts
- Dan Carpenter – Miami Dolphins
- Matt Bryant – Atlanta Falcons
- Rob Bironas – Tennessee Titans
- Garrett Hartley – New Orleans Saints
- Matt Prater – Denver Broncos
- David Buehler – Dallas Cowboys
- Josh Brown – St. Louis Rams
- Billy Cundiff – Baltimore Ravens
- The fact that Janikowski has a big leg is not a new revelation. Increased attempts in 2010 (41, which tied him for the league lead) certainly helped his production. If the Raiders cannot improve its passing game, he should be in line for a significant number of opportunities once again. While he went 12-19 on kicks over 40 yards in ’10, he’s just a year removed from going 15-18 in that range (including 6-8 from 50-plus). Also, how many other kickers have the leg to be trusted with seven or more 50-plus field goals in each of the past five seasons? If he can continue to convert from long distance he is going to rack up the points.
- A torn quadriceps cost Gostkowski half of the ’10 season, but he should be back to full strength for the upcoming year. We know he can convert his kicks and should get a significant number of extra point opportunities (he had over 40 in each of his first four seasons).
- While Vinatieri may not have a 50-plus yard leg at this point, but he’s as dependable as they come (33-for-37 the past two years). Plus, don’t forget about the extra point potential. If Peyton Manning is healthy, would it be surprising to see him lead the league in that regard once again (he had 51 extra points in 2010)?
- Would anyone have guessed that Carpenter led the league with eight field goal attempts of at least 50 yards? It shows us that he has the leg and the trust of his coaches, which should help lead to more success in 2011.
Make sure to check out the rest of the early rankings from Rotoprofessor: