B/R NFL 1000: Top 32 Punters

Matt Miller@nfldraftscoutNFL Draft Lead WriterJuly 9, 2015

B/R NFL 1000: Top 32 Punters

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Who is the best player in the NFL? Not based on the last 10 years or one game, but over the last year: Who was the best? Good luck answering that one without starting a fight, right?    

    Well, that's what the NFL 1000 aims to do by scouting, grading and then ranking the best players at each position before putting them in order and breaking ties to come up with the top 1,000 players. No narratives, no fantasy football points, no quarterback rating: This is cold, hard scouting.

    You can find rankings for all other positions on our B/R NFL 1000 main page.

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

    Potential is not taken into consideration, nor are career accomplishments.

    Punters aren't judged as much on traits, as theirs is a job based largely on results. With that in mind, they were evaluated on punt placement accuracy (45 points) and punt power (50), plus five points for their value as starters or backups. In that category, we're looking at whether the player is a consistent starter, a spot starter, a top-level backup or simply a backup-only player.

    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.

    Each player was scouted by me and a team of experienced evaluators (Dan Bazal, Cian Fahey, Dan Hope, Marshal Miller, Justis Mosqueda) with these key criteria in mind. The following scouting reports and grades are the work of months of film study from our team.

      

    All statistics from Pro Football Focus. Players' heights, weights and seasons played from NFL.com.

32. Michael Koenen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Overall

    78/100

    Punt Power: 39/50; Punt Placement: 37/45; Starter: 2/5

    Michael Koenen (5'11", 198 lbs, 10 seasons) easily had the worst season of his career. When he first arrived in the NFL, he showed some impressive distance on his punts. This past season, Koenen finished the year with a league-worst 39.9-yards-per-punt average. His inability to get sufficient distance is a real concern in Tampa Bay. On a positive note, Koenen only booted two balls into the end zone for touchbacks.

31. Tim Masthay, Green Bay Packers

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    Overall

    78/100

    Punt Power: 39/50; Punt Placement: 37/45; Starter: 2/5

    Tim Masthay (6'1", 200 lbs, five seasons) and the punt team are one of the few weaknesses for the Green Bay Packers. Masthay's inability to generate adequate distance and height on his punts allows opposing special teams to take advantage. His 37.9-net-yards-per-punt average was near the worst in the league, and his 10 fair catches ranked him dead last in that category. Also, he allowed more blocked punts per attempt than any other punter in the league. Masthay had two out of his 49 punts blocked.

30. Colton Schmidt, Buffalo Bills

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    Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

    Overall

    79/100

    Punt Power: 37/50; Punt Placement: 39/45; Starter: 3/5

    Colton Schmidt (5'11", 224 lbs, one season) had the third-lowest yards-per-punt average out of all qualifying players at 42.9. You might think playing in Buffalo would be the cause for the low average, but that is not the case. Six out of his top seven games were played in the Bills' stadium. He is fairly precise when given a short field and was among the league leaders in punts placed inside the 20-yard line.

29. Brad Wing, Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    Overall

    80/100

    Punt Power: 42/50; Punt Placement: 36/45; Starter: 2/5

    In his rookie season, Brad Wing (6'3", 205 lbs, one season) showed two things: He can demolish a ball with his extremely powerful leg, and he is extremely inconsistent. Wing had two punts this past season that were longer than 70 yards, but his inability to consistently drive the ball deep hurt his average. He is a low-ball punter who rarely connects with a ball that is in the air for longer than five seconds, and he had too many games where his average punt distance was below 40 yards. If he can develop into more of an all-around punter, he might be able to become one of the best in the league.

28. Spencer Lanning, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Gary Wiepert/Associated Press

    Overall

    80/100

    Punt Power: 40/50; Punt Placement: 37/45; Starter: 3/5

    With the Cleveland Browns sending a seventh-round pick to the San Francisco 49ers for Andy Lee, it should tell you what kind of season Spencer Lanning (5'11", 200 lbs, two seasons) had. Lanning doesn't have the distance or height to keep return men from making plays against the Browns special teams unit. Forty-two of his 93 punts were returnable, and the opposing team turned a lot of those into big plays. Lanning, who is now in Tampa, is hoping that leaving Cleveland will allow him to rejuvenate his career.

27. Steve Weatherford, New York Giants

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Overall

    81/100

    Punt Power: 42/50; Punt Placement: 36/45; Starter: 3/5

    For as low as he kicks the ball, you would like to see Steve Weatherford (6'2", 210 lbs, nine seasons) in the top tier of distance, but this past season, he averaged a mediocre 45.5 yards per punt. Weatherford showed he can boom the ball on occasion but lacked the consistency to continually change field position for the Giants. Weatherford may have had an off year, but at his age, it may be more likely that this is what he is.

26. Britton Colquitt, Denver Broncos

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    Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

    Overall

    81/100

    Punt Power: 39/50; Punt Placement: 39/45; Starter 3/5

    The thin air at Sports Authority Field at Mile High might help out the Broncos' field-goal kickers, but it hasn't helped out Britton Colquitt (6'3", 205 lbs, five seasons). Colquitt's 43.8-yards-per-punt average is one of the lowest in the league. When you don't have the leg drive to flip the field, you need to excel at placement and pinning teams deep, neither of which Colquitt has mastered.

25. Chris Jones. Dallas Cowboys

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Overall

    81/100

    Punt Power: 40/50; Punt Placement: 37/45; Starter: 4/5

    Chris Jones (6'0", 205 lbs, four seasons) might not be able to drive the ball deep downfield like most of the punters in the NFL, but he is disciplined and controlled when it comes to the short game. His two touchbacks out of 57 punts was one of the best ratios in the league. Even though Jones plays most of his games indoors, he isn't a drastically better punter when not having to deal with the elements. He should have had a better average than 45.5 yards per punt.

24. Pat O'Donnell, Chicago Bears

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    Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

    Overall

    81/100

    Punt Power: 41/50; Punt Placement: 36/45; Starter: 4/5

    The top-rated rookie punter on our list, Pat O'Donnell (6'4", 220 lbs, one season) showed promise in his first season as a Chicago Bear. O'Donnell proved he could kick with power on occasions and showed restraint when dealing with a short field. He only had three touchbacks out of his 71 punts and caused 21 fair catches. The transition from playing his college games at the University of Miami to playing in the Windy City couldn't have went much smoother.

23. Ryan Allen, New England Patriots

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    Overall

    82/100

    Punt Power: 40/50; Punt Placement: 39/45; Starter: 3/5

    Ryan Allen (6'2", 220 lbs, two seasons) plays in a lot of cold-weather games up in New England, and it shows in a lot of his stats. He usually tries to punt more for distance than he does height and ends up shanking far too many kicks. There were three games this past season where Allen's average distance was shorter than 38 yards, and all three games were multiple-punt games. It's not like he misfired on one punt and it brought down his average. He will need to become more consistent in the future, or he will be looking for a new job outside of Foxborough.

22. Mike Scifres, San Diego Chargers

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    Denis Poroy/Associated Press

    Overall

    82/100

    Punt Power: 38/50; Punt Placement: 40/45; Starter: 4/5

    Mike Scifres (6'2", 215 lbs, 12 seasons) has the ability to kick the ball high and far on a regular basis. He had three punts end up being over 60 yards this past season, with his longest making it a whopping 72 yards downfield. Where he struggles is in short-field situations when he is trying to pin opponents near their goal line. He only managed to have 22 of his 55 punts downed inside the 20.

21. Ryan Quigley, New York Jets

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Overall

    82/100

    Punt Power: 40/50; Punt Placement: 38/45; Starter: 4/5

    Ryan Quigley (6'3", 188 lbs, two seasons) has not been overly impressive in his first two seasons of his young career, but he did show some improvement over his rookie year. He can regularly boot kicks high into the air, averaging well over five seconds per punt, but with that comes a little shorter punt. Usually when a punter has great height and short distance, he can keep the ball out of the end zone, but that is not the case with Quigley, as he is one of the worst in the league in touchbacks with nine.

20. Dave Zastudil, Arizona Cardinals

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Overall

    83/100

    Punt Power: 40/50; Punt Placement: 40/45; Starter: 3/5

    A lingering groin injury kept Dave Zastudil (6'3", 220 lbs, 13 seasons) out for most of the 2014 season. Zastudil had been one of the most consistent and reliable punters in the league since entering the NFL in 2002. He has an innate ability to down punts inside the 20-yard line and is very precise with most of his punts. At this stage of his career, he isn't able to get the height required to be exceptionally effective when punting from deep in his own end.

19. Kevin Huber, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Overall

    83/100

    Punt Power: 40/50; Punt Placement: 40/45; Starter: 3/5

    A low-ball punter, Kevin Huber (6'1", 214 lbs, six seasons) lacks the ideal height you would like to see out of an NFL-caliber punter. His line-drive punts can either be a blessing or a curse. If he isn't able to kick the ball away from the return man, he can get his special teams unit in trouble. Playing in Cincinnati isn't the ideal situation for a punter, but Huber manages to hold his own even when the temperatures begin to drop.

18: Brett Kern, Tennessee Titans

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Overall

    83/100

    Punt Power: 38/50; Punt Placement: 41/45; Starter: 4/5

    Brett Kern (6'2", 214 lbs, eight seasons) had the longest punt of this past season, as it traveled 79 yards before being downed. In the past, Kern wasn't really known for his ability to flip the field, but in 2014, he drastically improved that portion of his game. What Kern made up for in length, he still lacked in height, having a max hang time of 5.00 seconds. Kern showed he could still place the ball inside the 20-yard line, having 30 of his punts end up deep in the opponent's territory.

17. Jon Ryan, Seattle Seahawks

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Overall

    83/100

    Punt Power: 38/50; Punt Placement: 40/45; Starter: 5/5

    From punter to quarterback to American Ninja Warrior, Jon Ryan (6'0", 217 lbs, nine seasons) is probably one of the biggest and most athletic punters in the league. His 44.0-yards-per-punt average isn't going to blow anyone away, but he led the league in return percentage at 26.7 percent. He was also one of the best in the NFL at pinning opponents back inside their 20-yard line. While Ryan might not have one of the strongest legs at his position, he is able to get adequate height on his punts.

16. Donnie Jones, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

    Overall

    84/100

    Punt Power: 40/50; Punt Placement: 41/45; Starter: 3/5

    Donnie Jones (6'2", 221 lbs, 11 seasons) is a line-drive directional punter who lacks the height on his punts for his team get downfield. His 38.9-net-yards-per-punt average ranks him in the bottom half of the league, and he only had two games in which his punts averaged more than five seconds in the air. He relies on the sidelines and perfect spin to pin opponents deep in their own territory, where he is a master and one of the league's best, having 37 of his 76 punts come to a stop inside the 20-yard line.

15. Drew Butler, Arizona Cardinals

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    Overall

    84/100

    Punt Power: 42/50; Punt Placement: 39/45; Starter: 3/5

    Drew Butler (6'1", 217 lbs, two seasons) finished this past season with the second-lowest average in yards per punt with 42.1, but combine that with quality height, and you get the second-lowest percentage of punts returned against you. He was constantly punting with a short field, and it showed, as he was the leader in punts inside the 20-yard line with 42. With a long of 67 yards, Butler showed that when given the opportunity, he can blast the ball way past his 42-yard average.

14. Shane Lechler, Houston Texans

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    Patric Schneider/Associated Press

    Overall

    84/100

    Punt Power: 42/50; Punt Placement: 39/45; Starter: 3/5

    Shane Lechler (6'2", 237 lbs, 15 seasons) has been considered one of the best punters in the NFL since he entered the league way back in 2000. Over the past few years, he has lost a little bit of his consistency and touch, but he still has the ability to crush a moonshot, sending punt returners scurrying toward their own end zones. The downside to all that leg strength is that Lechler led the league in touchbacks with 10.

13. Sam Koch, Baltimore Ravens

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    Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Overall

    84/100

    Punt Power: 41/50; Punt Placement: 39/45; Starter: 4/5

    One of the most powerful legs in the NFL belongs to Sam Koch (6'1", 219 lbs, nine seasons). He finished third in the league with a 47.0-yards-per-punt average and tied for the league lead in net average at 42.9. Even though Koch isn't able to consistently keep the ball in flight for over five seconds, he still allowed only 23 of his 60 punts to be returned. Koch also shows good touch, only allowing four of his punts to end up as touchbacks.

12. Tress Way, Washington Redskins

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    Michael Perez/Associated Press

    Overall

    85/100

    Punt Power: 40/50; Punt Placement: 41/45; Starter: 4/5

    Tress Way (6'1", 215 lbs, one season) can absolutely crush the ball. He led the league in gross punt average at 47.5 yards per punt as well as maximum hang time, averaging 5.65 seconds per kick. He is a classic "outkick his coverage" type of punter who needs to work on his accuracy and his ability to pin teams deep when dealing with a short field. He finished in the lower half of the league with only 24 punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

11. Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Overall

    86/100

    Punt Power: 41/50; Punt Placement: 41/45; Starter: 4/5

    Once again, Dustin Colquitt (6'3", 210 lbs, 10 seasons) showed he is one of the best punters in the league at pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line. He doesn't have the most powerful leg in the NFL and isn't able to get sufficient hang time on most of his kicks. His ability to get punts off quickly in pressure situations makes him one of the toughest punters to block. 

10. Bryan Anger, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Stephen B. Morton/Associated Press

    Overall

    86/100

    Punt Power: 41/50; Punt Placement: 41/45; Starter: 4/5

    Bryan Anger (6'3", 202 lbs, three seasons) had a bit of an up-and-down season for the Jacksonville Jaguars. His 47.3-yards-per-punt average ranked second overall, but his 39.3-net-yards-per-punt average had him near the bottom of that category. Anger's inability to kick away from returners and insufficient height on his kicks allowed return men to run back a league-high 52 punts. He has the leg drive to compete with the league's best for distance, but he'll need to refine the rest of his skill set if he wants to become one of the elite punters in the NFL.

9.Marquette King, Oakland Raiders

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    Overall

    88/100

    Punt Power: 44/50; Punt Placement: 41/45; Starter 3/5

    One of the stats a team doesn't want to lead the league in is punts, and that's where we find Marquette King (6'0", 185 lbs, two seasons). His 109 punts were 15 more than the second-place finisher. On the plus side, he didn't allow a single one of his punts to get blocked. King proved he's not a one-trick pony with a big leg and no control. Out of those 109 punts, only three of them crossed the goal line for touchbacks. His improvement in his control helped propel him into our top 10 punters for 2014.

8. Brad Nortman, Carolina Panthers

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Overall

    89/100

    Punt Power: 43/50; Punt Placement: 42/45; Starter: 4/5

    Brad Nortman (6'2", 215 lbs, three seasons) doesn't have the ability to consistently boot the ball deep, but he can put a charge into one on occasion, having a long of 72 yards this past season. He is an exceptional directional punter who routinely tries to kick away from dangerous return men. Nortman frequently lands the ball inside the 20-yard line, making life difficult for opposing offenses, and he is near the top of the league in fair catches. He needs to work on getting the ball off his foot faster because he tied for the league lead in blocked punts allowed with two.

7. Sam Martin, Detroit Lions

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Overall

    89/100

    Punt Power: 42/50; Punt Placement: 42/45; Starter: 5/5

    After an excellent rookie campaign, Sam Martin (6'1", 210 lbs, two seasons) followed it up with another superb year. Martin is one of the best in the league at punting the ball high in the air. His ball is consistently in flight for more than five seconds, and he ranks near the top of the league in fair catches with 22 and return percentage, only allowing returns on 42.6 percent of his kicks.

6. Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    Overall

    89/100

    Punt Power: 42/50; Punt Placement: 42/45; Starter: 5/5

    Pat McAfee (6'1", 240 lbs, six seasons) has everything you look for in a punter. He has the powerful leg, the pinpoint control, the height to allow his guys to get down the field and the quick release to get rid of the punt in pressure situations. He ranks near the top in average net punting yards at 42.7 and punts downed inside the 20-yard line with 33. In any one year, McAfee could be recognized as the best overall punter in the NFL.

5. Andy Lee, Cleveland Browns

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    Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

    Overall

    90/100

    Punt Power: 44/50; Punt Placement: 42/45; Starter: 4/5

    The top-ranked outdoor punter, Andy Lee (6'1", 185 lbs, 11 seasons) finished fifth in the league, averaging 46.8 yards per punt. His consistency stands out, as he rarely shanks a punt or boots it deep into the end zone for a touchback. With a long of 71 yards, he showed he still has the leg drive to blast one deep. Lee will look to continue his dominance as a punter in Cleveland next season after the 49ers traded him to the Browns for a seventh-round pick.

4. Thomas Morstead, New Orleans Saints

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    Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

    Overall

    90/100

    Punt Power: 42/50; Punt Placement: 43/45; Starter: 5/5

    Thomas Morstead (6'4", 235 lbs, six seasons) is a solid all-around punter who isn't going to blow you away with monstrous distance or pinpoint accuracy, but he has a well-rounded skill set that allows him to be one of the league leaders in net punting average at 42.8 yards. His ability to combine just enough length with the exact amount of height helps keep that number high. Playing most of his games in a dome this past season definitely added to Morstead's numbers and helped out his ranking on our list.

3. Matt Bosher, Atlanta Falcons

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Overall

    90/100

    Punt Power: 42/50; Punt Placement: 43/45; Starter: 5/5

    The most improved punter in the league, Matt Bosher (6'0", 208 lbs, four seasons) has always had the leg strength to be a great NFL punter, and this past season, he added consistent accuracy to his repertoire. Bosher is a fan favorite because of his middle linebacker mentality and willingness to not only sacrifice his body to prevent big returns, but also to unload on unsuspecting return men. This mindset has also led to some injuries.

2. Johnny Hekker, St. Louis Rams

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    Billy Hurst/Associated Press

    Overall

    90/100

    Punt Power: 42/50; Punt Placement 43/45; Starter: 5/5

    It only took Johnny Hekker (6'5", 246 lbs) three seasons to become a top-two punter in the NFL, so get used to seeing him at the top of our list. He is one of the few punters who can combine distance, height and accuracy. Hekker is one of the best in basically every statistical category, and his average of 42.9 net yards per punt tied for a league best. The one area Hekker could improve is release time, as he allowed one of his punts to be blocked.

1. Brandon Fields, Miami Dolphins

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    Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press

    Overall

    92/100

    Punt Power: 44/50; Punt Placement: 43/45; Starter: 5/5

    Brandon Fields (6'5", 249 lbs, eight seasons) had a down year in terms of distance average (46.3 yards) and height, maxing out at a subpar 4.75 seconds. Where he excelled was with his surgeon-like precision and his ability to keep the ball out of the end zone. He routinely left his opponents with poor field position, causing them to start inside the 20-yard line on nearly half of his 58 punts. If it wasn't for Fields playing with a short field on most of his punts, or if he played more games indoors, we would likely see his distance up near the top of the league.

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