This is the third year that I have been doing my NFL Kicker Power Rankings, but it is the first time it has featured for Full Press Coverage. There have been a few surprises this season and the statistics don’t exactly line up with the conventional thought of how good or bad a Kicker is – but the stats don’t lie.
Each Kicker will be compared with their ranking at the end of the 2017. I would like to call out a caveat that the midseason rankings usually aren’t as accurate as the end of season ones as the sample size can be quite small at the halfway point.
How the Rankings Work:
*Stats below as of November 2, 2018
Each kicker is ranked based on a formula that looks at:
- Amount of Field Goals Attempted
• Amount of Field Goals Made
• Field Goal Conversion Percentage (FGCP)
• Field Goals Blocked
• Longest Field Goal Made
• FGCP of Field Goals Made between 1-19 yards
• FGCP of Field Goals Made between 20-29 yards
• FGCP of Field Goals Made between 30-39 yards
• FGCP of Field Goals Made between 40-49 yards
• FGCP of Field Goals Made over 50 yards
• Amount of Extra Points Made
• Extra Points Conversion Percentage
The Fab 4
1. Jason Myers – Jets – 305pts – (Up 30)
2. Graham Gano – Panthers – 311pts – (Up 13)
3. Josh Lambo – Jaguars – 312pts – (Up 9)
4. Will Lutz – Saints – 314pts – (Up 1)
If you said to me in 2017 that this collection of Kickers would make up the highest echelon of Place Kicking in the NFL, I would have laughed. Laughed a hearty condescending laugh and maybe even patted you on the head.
Jason Myers has had a breakout year in New Jersey. Up 30 places since last season, he is at the top or near the top in nearly every category so his place at the summit after eight games is well deserved. Graham Gano is picture proof that perseverance with a young Kicker can pay off in later years. The 31 year old has matured from an inaccurate youngster with a big leg to one of the best at his position.
The Chargers have suffered badly at the kicking position in recent years and haven’t really had a good option at the position since Nick Novak. The funny thing is Josh Lambo was the person brought in to replace Novak but he missed some important kicks, which resulted in the whole Younghoe Koo experiment. Lutz is the odd man out here. He has quietly gone about his business and played at a high level straight out of the gate. At 24 he has 15 years or so, and if he continues to play at this level, the Saints would be crazy to let him walk.
5. Matt Bryant – Falcons – 317pts – (Up 6)
6. Robbie Gould – 49ers – 323pts – (No Change)
Here we have the grizzled veterans. Matt Bryant is probably one of the most underrated Kickers in the NFL. He has a career FGCP of 85.8%, (which is better than Adam Vinatieri) and is still playing his best at 43 years old. So far in 2018, Bryant has been perfect on Field Goals but a missed Extra Point and only 9 Field Goals attempts, keeps him out of the top group.
Robbie Gould had suffered a mid-career dip with the Bears but has gone from strength to strength at the 49ers with only one miss this season.
7. Brandon McManus – Broncos – 332pts – (Up 21)
8. Dustin Hopkins – Redskins – 333pts – (Up 21)
9. Brett Maher – Cowboys – 334pts – (New Entry)
10. Adam Vinatieri – Colts – 336pts – (Up 8)
11. Stephen Gostkowski – Patriots – 337pts – (Down 9)
12. Jason Sanders – Dolphins – 338pts – (New Entry)
13. Aldrick Rosas – Giants – 339pts – (Up 17)
Brandon McManus regressed slightly last season but has seen a resurgence in 2018. He benefits from kicking in the thin air of Mile High, but he has been accurate with only one miss. McManus is similar to Lambo in that he had a rocky start to his career, before settling down in Denver and becoming more consistent over time. Dustin Hopkins’ story over the last two seasons has followed that of McManus, with a poor 2017, followed up by a strong 2018 so far. He has two misses, but has made a 56-yarder.
When the Cowboys moved on from Dan Bailey and went with Brett Maher, it was met with consternation from the fans. Bailey was one of the most consistent and consistently good players the Cowboys had at any position. So far, Maher has kicked to a level that has meant that the complaints have died down. Maher is also the best placed of any of the New Entries. Not many people might know, but Maher is technically in his 6th season in the NFL but this is his first starting role.
The GOAT and GOAT Junior come next in Vinatieri and Gostkowski. All you need to know about Vinatieri is that he recently became the all-time NFL top points scorer. By Christmas this year he will turn 46 and is still a top-10 NFL Kicker. Gostkowski has been a bit up and down of late, but that is by his own high standards. Last year he missed three kicks all season, this year he has missed two at the halfway stage. He hasn’t had his leg really tested either yet, with his longest only being 50-yards.
Despite a relatively small sample size, Jason Sanders in Miami has been doing very well, making 9 out of his 10 kicks and missing 1 extra point. Sanders is a rookie, and given the time it takes to bed into the NFL as a Kicker, he has done as well as could be expected so far. Aldrick Rosas struggled with his middle distance kicks last season and it is something he has clearly worked on. In 2017 he made only 7 of his 14 kicks from 30-49 yards. This season he hasn’t missed any.
14. Stephen Hauschka – Bills – 342pts – (Down 4)
15. Ka’imi Fairbairn – Texans – 346pts – (Up 1)
16. Ryan Succop – Titans – 347pts – (Up 1)
17. Greg Zuerlein – Rams – 353pts – (Down 17)
18. Harrison Butker – Chiefs – 356pts – (Down 15)
19. Dan Bailey – Vikings – 358pts – (Up 1)
20. Mason Crosby – Packers – 358pts – (Up 7)
From the halcyon days of 2015, the shine has slightly come off Stephen Hauschka. He is still one of the best in the business, though which aligns with his career average of 87.3%. The problem for Hauschka is that he is hamstrung by the anaemic Bills Offence. Ka’imi Fairbairn joined the Texans with little fanfare for a former Lou Groza award winner. He isn’t the most accurate, but he keeps his head above water, making the easy kicks but struggling from distance.
Ryan Succop has been his typical self; middle of the pack. His limitation is his distance, but he is a very accurate Kicker under 40 yards. This might seem like a backhanded compliment but he is automatic where other Kickers can succumb to pressure. Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein was the best Kicker in Football last season. He made 38 from 40 kicks but despite having only one miss this season, his problem is the potency of the Rams Offence. He has only had to attempt ten kicks so far with a long of 55-yards. If he has the opportunity to attempt more kicks, expect to see him climb back up to where he belongs.
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Harrison Butker has been good so far this year but the longest kick he has made is a meagre 46-yards. His only miss came from 50+ yards. Butker is a bit like Zuerlein in that should he make a few more kicks, and in Butker’s case a few longer kicks, he should climb up the list too. Dan Bailey has had an inconsistent few seasons in Dallas and now Minnesota. Going from being one of the statistically best kickers of all time he had a poor second half of the season in 2017 and has had three misses already this year resulting in only a 79% FGCP.
When I plugged the numbers into the formulae and I saw Mason Crosby sitting at 19, I thought there must be something wrong. One weakness with this ranking is that it doesn’t take “Clutch” or pressure kicks into account, yet. Looking purely at the numbers, he has five misses all from distance but he has also made 17 kicks, which is the joint second highest in the league. I think come the end of the season, Crosby will manage to fall back into his category.
Inconsistent – The ‘Mason Crosby’ Category:
21. Cody Parkey – Bears – 366pts – (Down 2)
22. Mike Nugent – Raiders – 367pts – (Re-Entry)
23. Sebastian Janikowski – Seahawks – 369pts – (Re-Entry)
24. Chandler Catanzaro – Bucs – 371pts – (Down 11)
25. Justin Tucker – Ravens – 371pts – (Down 17)
This category is usually reserved for the eponymous Crosby who managed to just squeeze his way out so far this year. This category is for guys who one year look like world-beaters and the next brow beaten. Cody Parkey was very effective last season for the Dolphins with a 91% FGCP but let himself down with three missed extra points. This year, he has made all his extra points but only has a 79% FGCP with his longest only coming from 50-yards.
Mike Nugent spent a year out of these rankings last season having not accrued enough kicks. This year he has made 6 from 6 and missed one extra point. Nugent never lived up to his draft status with the Bengals. The Raiders will hope he continues his run of form but it won’t be until 2019 as he was placed on IR with a hip injury. I have said it about Sebastian Janikowski in the past that his big leg and notoriety in the league, sometimes outweighs the fact that he has never been accurate. 2018 does nothing to help dispel this with a poor 73% FGCP rating.
Chandler Catanzaro was a middle of the road performer last season, but his struggle making the medium to long distance kicks between 40-49 yards continue to be his downfall. Last year he hit only 71% from 17 attempts, this year its 0% albeit from two attempts. Justin Tucker has looked human this year. Whilst on the face of it, he hasn’t been as bad as his 25th position suggests, he has two misses like Catanzaro from between 40-49 yards and he also has that missed extra point.
On the Edge:
26. Randy Bullock – Bengals – 378pts – (Down 6)
27. Matt Prater – Lions – 381pts – (Down 23)
28. Jake Elliott – Eagles – 410pts – (Down 19)
This category is reserved for those who are getting close to being a problem for their franchise but may have a bit more length of rope than those in the following category. I have often maligned Randy Bullock both in these ranking and on Twitter on how he maintains his job whilst so many good Kickers, (see the list at the bottom) are unable to get their second chance. Last season and this year he has improved and I have to give him credit. These rankings punish misses on perceived makeable kicks, (less than 40 yards) which is where one of his errors occurred. He has also missed one of his kicks from over 50 and an extra point.
Matt Prater has seen one of the bigger fall offs from last season, which is uncommon for an established veteran such as himself. Prater’s issue has been distance, with only two of his kicks from five attempts being completed over 40-yards. Jake Elliott did enough last season for the Eagles to move on from Caleb Sturgis who had been excellent in 2016. This year a 75% FGCP and a long of 46 suggest that the faith might have been misplaced.
On the Chopping Block:
29. Greg Joseph – Browns – 425pts – (New Entry)
30. Caleb Sturgis – Chargers – 435pts – (Re-Entry)
31. Phil Dawson – Cardinals – 443pts – (Down 10)
32. Chris Boswell – Steelers – 448pts – (Down 25)
The Cleveland Browns have struggled to replace Phil Dawson who left in 2012. In Joseph, they seem to have one of the better replacements but that is relative to Cleveland rather than the NFL as a whole. The rookie has a 83% FGCP, but his longest, a mere 45 yards. He has also missed two extra points. He is still a rookie, but that does not absolve him of blame. Like the Browns, the Chargers have this innate ability to suck the talent out of their Kickers. Sturgis (as already mentioned) was fantastic before his injury setback in 2017. Since coming back he really has been poor, missing three kicks and four extra points.
Phil Dawson is another victim of a poor Offence rarely getting him in position to kick. He may have only had six kicks this year but he has missed two of them with a long of 43 yards. Dawson hasn’t been great for two years now, so it will be interesting to see if the Cardinals keep the 43 year old around next season or if he calls it quits himself. Chris Boswell has been living off his 2017 exploits this year. As good as he was last year, he has been worse this year. A 67% FGCP and three missed extra points were symptomatic of the Steelers early season struggles.
Already Cut33. Cairo Santos – Rams – 461pts – (Re-Entry)34. Zane Gonzalez – Browns – 556pts – (Down 10)
Both Santos and Gonzalez are already back on the street but both for different reasons. Santos did a decent job filling in for Zuerlein in LA but was always going to find it difficult to keep his job when Zuerlein was fit. In Gonzalez’s case, he was just atrocious. A 40% FGCP from five kicks and two missed extra points put an early halt to his Browns tenure.
Outside of the Kickers listed above, the below is a list of veterans waiting in the wings for their next chance. I have listed either their current team or who they were with the last time they were in the NFL and when. If there are any Kickers you think are missing from this list, let me know in the comments below.
• Giorgio Tavecchio (Falcons [Under 5 kicks])
• Mike Badgely (Chargers Practice Squad)
• Eddy Pineiro (Raiders IR)
• Andrew Franks (Orlando Apollos – AAF)
• Nick Novak (Birmingham Iron – AAF)
• Roberto Aguayo (Chargers 2018)
• Taylor Bertolet (Jets 2018)
• Daniel Carlson (Vikings 2018)
• Sam Ficken (Rams 2018)
• Ross Martin (Browns 2018)
• Matt McCrane (Cardinals 2018)
• Travis Coons (Chargers 2017)
• Nick Folk (Bucs 2017)
• Kai Forbath (Vikings 2017)
• Jordan Gay (Titans 2017)
• Zach Hocker (Bucs 2017)
• Younghoe Koo (Chargers 2017)
• Patrick Murray (Bucs 2017)
• Blair Walsh (Seahawks 2017)
• Dan Carpenter (Bills 2016)
• Kyle Brindza (Jets 2016)
If anybody would like to learn more on how the rankings are calculated, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter.
-Luke O’Brien is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots and the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @lukeobrien21