NFL Kicker Power Rankings
This is the second instalment of the NFL Kicker Power Rankings for 2017. It is a series I have written on my own blog during 2016 but I have given it a full revamp this year for Overtime Ireland. Now that we are passed the halfway point of the season, the statistics should now show a more clear definition on how each Kicker is performing.
How the Rankings Work
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
In a Class of his Own
1: Greg Zuerlein – LA Rams – 262pts – (Up 1)
“Legatron” is really living up to his name this season with only one miss all year out of his 29 attempts. Not quite perfect, but as close as anyone has been in 2017. His form is a far cry from the 66% success rate he had in 2015. In the patented “Luke O’Brien Kicker Scoring System” he is a massive 44 points clear and in the high-powered Rams Offence he shouldn’t be short of opportunities going forward.
With Zuerlein’s commanding lead, it was only right that he received his own level. That does not mean to say that those in the “Elite Class” do not live up to that moniker
2: Stephen Gostkowski – New England Patriots – 306pts – (Down 1)
Stephen Gostkowski is still playing at an elite level despite a shaky performance against the Chargers where he missed 2 Field Goals. There were calls from fans for him to be cut immediately after the game, which goes to show how reactionary fans can be. Gostkowski had his troubles last year but has outperformed nearly everyone else in the NFL so far. It begs the questions, who would the Patriots fans have wanted instead that was available?
3: Kai Forbath – Minnesota Vikings – 306pts – (Up 21)
Kai Forbath has been a big mover since the last rankings. His FGCP has been impressive but his Extra Points have been anything but, with four misses on the year so far. Overall, it has been a good year for Forbath who has struggled to stick around with a team since leaving the Redskins.
4: Harrison Butker – Kansas City Chiefs – 310pts – (Up 15)
It will come as a surprise to many to see Harrison Butker’s name so high up the list. He has been on fire since taking over from Cairo Santos. What makes his position even more impressive is that he has made the joint 7th most kicks in the NFL despite playing in fewer games than his peers.
5: Matt Prater – Detroit Lions – 311pts – (Up 2)
Matt Prater has returned to his 2013 form and is kicking well. He has been consistent at kicks under 50 yards this season with no misses. It is over 50 yards that he has struggled with only a 62% conversion rate.
6: Adam Vinatieri – Indianapolis Colts – 315pts – (Up 3)
As expected, Adam Vinatieri has started his ascent up the list, moving up 3 places since the last iteration. Since then he has only missed one extra point and has made an impressive 4 out of 4 on kicks over 50 yards. A Hall-of-Fame jacket awaits Vinatieri when he does eventually decide to retire. At the moment he show no sign of slowing down and in my opinion should be a first ballot Hall-of-Famer.
7: Dan Bailey – Dallas Cowboys – 319pts – (Down 4)
Dan Bailey has a groin injury at the moment, and has been temporarily replaced by Mike Nugent in Dallas. Owner Jerry Jones has advised the media that he will likely miss another month. This is only a minor setback for the Placekicker with the best statistical record in NFL history.
8: Stephen Hauschka – Buffalo Bills – 320pts – (Non-Mover)
Stephen Hauschka has kept up his streak of not missing an Extra Point in 2017 after leading the league in misses last year. His two misses between 40-49 yards are the only blemishes on his record so far. If he continues his form he should rise further up this list.
9: Jake Elliott – Philadelphia Eagles – 323pts – (Up 1)
Jake Elliott has continued his good form in Philadelphia and will give Doug Peterson a tough decision to make when Caleb Sturgis returns to full health. Either way this season has been a great audition for Elliott which may help him gain a contract for next season.
10: Ka’imi Fairbairn – Houston Texans – 333pts – (Down 4)
Kai’imi Fairbairn has fallen behind Jake Elliott to become the 3rd highest ranked first time starter at the Kicking position in 2017. The only knock on him has been that the Texans (before DeShaun Watson’s injury) were scoring Touchdowns rather than settling for Field Goals. This means that Fairbairn has only attempted 13 kicks in 8 games.
11: Will Lutz – New Orleans Saints – 334pts – (Up 5)
Will Lutz has crept up the rankings this year, and at the age of 23 he is one of the youngest Kickers in the NFL. So far in his short career he has managed to avoid the inconsistencies that usually mar the early part of a young Kickers’ career. The Saints really do appear to have a franchise Kicker in Lutz. As long as he keeps his consistency, he doesn’t need to reach the levels of those in the Elite class to be one of the better players at his position for the next 15 or so seasons.
12: Robbie Gould – San Francisco 49ers – 338pts – (Up 2)
Robbie Gould moves up two places to 12th for the 49ers. Gould is a steady Kicker at this stage of his career and seems to have put his last few years with the Bears behind him.
13: Ryan Succop – Tennessee Titans – 338pts – (Down 2)
As I mentioned in the last version of the rankings, Ryan Succop is more of an accurate Kicker than a “big-leg” Kicker and still struggles from distance. This fact is evident again in 2017 with his only two of his three misses coming from 50+ yards.
14: Josh Lambo – Jacksonville Jaguars – 339pts – (New Entry)
In 2016, Josh Lambo languished near the bottom of this list in 28th place. Since joining the Jaguars as a replacement for Jason Myers, Lambo has made all 7 of his attempts and has missed just one Extra Point. Myers had not been kicking well but his release was somewhat surprising. The Jaguars decision to move to Lambo has so far proved to be a shrewd one. He needs to continue on this level of performance to permanently wash away the mistakes from his time in San Diego.
15: Chandler Catanzaro – New York Jets – 343pts – (Down 2)
Chandler Catanzaro is the first of the “Solid” group. He has four misses so far, but they have all come in the 40-49 yard range. He has made both of his attempts over 50 yards with a long of 57 has pretty much continued where Nick Folk left off with the Jets in 2016 as a middle of the road Kicker. In a season where many expected the Jets to go 0-16, middle of the road will do quite nicely.
16: Matt Bryant – Atlanta Falcons – 347pts – (Down 12)
After Matt Bryant’s slip ups against the Patriots, he has got back on track. He is tied with a number of others on the most kicks made from 50 yards or more. He should ascend up the rankings if he keeps up his 85% FGCP. At 42, he is still one of the better Kickers in the NFL and appears to have found the fountain of youth in Atlanta.
17: Graham Gano – Carolina Panthers – 352pts – (Non Mover)
In the last edition of the rankings, I mentioned that Graham Gano needs to be afforded the opportunity to Kick more attempts from 50 yards or more to have any hope of breaking the top 10. His 95% FGCP is outstanding, but in the era where every kick under 50 yards is considered a “lock” further scrutiny tells the real story of a player that may not be fully trusted by the coaching staff in Carolina.
18: Justin Tucker – Baltimore Ravens – 355pts – (Up 9)
Justin Tucker hasn’t been the player we all have grown to know and love in 2017 for the Ravens. Distance seems to have been an issue with one miss from 40-49 and two from 50+ yards. He has only one miss since the last version of the rankings and will more than likely rise up again by the time the next rankings come out.
19: Patrick Murray – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 364pts – (New Entry)
Who would have thought that a former Cleveland Browns would have been the man to steady the kicking position in Tampa Bay in 2017? That has been the case for Patrick Murray and the Bucs. His solitary miss this season was from over 50 yards. To be fair, the Buccaneers fans are probably just happy that they have somebody that can make 30-yard kicks with regularity. This season is a huge opportunity for Murray. If he can keep his nose clean he will be in line to replace Nick Folk in 2018.
20: Cody Parkey – Miami Dolphins – 365pts – (Down 8)
Cody Parkey has been a victim of the anaemic Dolphins offense. He has only been given ten attempts all season to kick a Field Goal, completing nine. His three Extra Points misses are difficult to forget however. With the poor Quarterback play from Jay Cutler, I wouldn’t expect Parkey to significantly improve this year.
21: Giorgio Tavecchio – Oakland Raiders – 366pts – (Down 16)
Giorgio Tavecchio like Cody Parkey is a victim of having a poor offence to play with. Since the halcyon days where he kicked four Field Goals in his first game, he has only kicked an average of one per game since then. The Raiders can’t seem to get going this year, which could help Sebastian Janikowski’s chances of a return once he has recovered from his injury.
22: Nick Rose – Washington Redskins – 373pts (New Entry)
Nick Rose is a new entry to the list courtesy of his play for the Washington Redskins where he replaced the injured Dustin Hopkins. Rose has performed admirably so far missing just one kick and one extra point. He has hardly set the world on fire, but he is compiling decent statistics that will bring him into contention for a job for next year.
Inconsistent – The Mason Crosby Category
23: Caleb Sturgis – Philadelphia Eagles – 383pts – (Down 8)
Caleb Sturgis is most likely going to be removed from the list in the next version unless he returns from injury to replace Jake Elliott in Philadelphia. He only managed 3/3 before injury befell him.
24: Brandon McManus – Denver Broncos – 392pts – (Up 4)
Brandon McManus hasn’t really improved much since the last rankings despite his clear talent. Strangely, he has struggled at home in the thin air of Mile High Stadium, Denver, an environment which is typically kind to Kickers as the ball carries further.
25: Dustin Hopkins – Washington Redskins – 392pts – (Non Mover)
Dustin Hopkins has been temporarily replaced in Washington by youngster Nick Rose. Hopkins’ injury may have come at a good time for him as he hadn’t matched his performances from last year where he was a solid mid-level contributor.
26: Mason Crosby – Green Bay Packers – 393pts – (Down 2)
The enigmatic Mason Crosby has conveniently (for me) stayed in his eponymous category. Crosby appears to be having once of his down years with a FGCP of only 79%. For a team like Green Bay, it is strange that they have stuck with him for so long. Depending on the day of the week he can be equally as good as he is bad.
27: Chris Boswell – Pittsburgh Steelers – 394pts – (Down 1)
Chris Boswell’s performances have mirrored that of the Pittsburgh Steelers in that they have both flattered to deceive. Boswell kicked well in his first season since being handed the starting role and many would have expected him to push on this season. It just hasn’t been the case. A longest Field Goal of 48 yards and three misses under 50 yards are poor no matter what way you look at it.
28: Blair Walsh – Seattle Seahawks – 398pts – (Down 10)
What do you do with a guy like Blair Walsh? For the first portion of the season so far he looked good, but then he capitulated missing all 3 of his kicks in a 17-14 loss to Washington. Outside of that performance he has been perfectly fine. With Walsh it is purely mental. He has the length and the accuracy of an elite Kicker but at times he can suffer a complete melt down. An attribute I’m sure that the Seahawks won’t tolerate if he has a repeat performance again this year.
29: Aldrick Rosas – New York Giants – 398pts – (Non Mover)
Aldrick Rosas sits just inside the top 30. He has looked like a typical first year starter with a FGCP of 67%, he could be replaced sooner rather than later. With the troubles that the Giants are having at the moment, replacing their Kicker is probably the least of their worries.
30: Zane Gonzalez – Cleveland Browns – 400pts – (Up 4)
Rounding out the top 30, Zane Gonzalez has improved slightly but is still kicking poorly. He has the same FGCP as Rosas but he sits two points below him by virtue of a missed Extra Point. In many ways Rosas and Gonzalez’s performances and situations are in lockstep. Both are in their first year as a starter, both are playing badly for bad teams which as a result might mean they keep their job until the end of the season at least as their misses become inconsequential to the teams results.
On the Edge
31: Jason Myers – Free Agent – 407pts – (Down 11)
The Jacksonville Jaguars had clearly set a high standard for their Kicking position in 2017. Jason Myers had been in the bottom half of Kickers in the NFL the last two seasons but was by no means the worst. However the Jags saw fit to move on from him and replace him with Josh Lambo, which seems to have been the correct choice. Now a Free Agent, Myers will need to impress quickly if he catches on with a team in the 2018 preseason. Young Kickers that get cut early in their career don’t get many more opportunities.
32: Phil Dawson – Arizona Cardinals – 410pts (Down 7)
Phil Dawson will turn 43 by the end of the 2017 season and he is playing every bit like it will be his last season. So far he has missed six Field Goals and one Extra Point. If he maintains this current trajectory, he could be replaced by the end of the season. It could be an ignominious end to an outstanding career.
33: Connor Barth – Chicago Bears – 417pts – (Down 2)
Conor Barth falls victim to a lack of Field Goal attempts but he has also missed quite a few of the attempts he has been given. Barth has it in him to make the difficult kicks. In the last few seasons he has been treated in a similar way to a Reliever in baseball, coming in to replace under performing Kickers. Now that he is the starter he could lose his job should John Fox decide to bring in some tryouts.
On the Chopping Block
34: Randy Bullock – Cincinatti Bengals – 436pts – (Down 12)
Randy Bullock hasn’t been trusted so far to kick anything longer than 46 yards. He often struggles with consistency but he will need to take every opportunity he is given in order to keep his job. So far the Bengals have struggled on offence but also shown a lack of faith in Bullock’s ability. His record isn’t terrible (80% FGCP) but that has come on only ten attempts.
35: Nick Folk – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 447pts (Down 5)
Nick Folk’s is still technically employed in Tampa Bay, but I doubt he expects to be on the roster next year. Currently on IR, Folk will be hard pressed to find a role next year after the disastrous performance he put in this year where he made only 6/11 of his kicks and missed two Extra Points. Sometimes the statistics really don’t lie.
36: Mike Nugent – Dallas Cowboys – 449pts – (Re-entry)
37: Nick Novak – LA Chargers – 452pts – (Down 4)
Mike Nugent and Nick Novak currently sit at the bottom of this list due to the way the formulae are calculated. Both are relief Kickers for the Cowboys and Chargers respectively. They have also made 4/6 of the their Field Goals so far. I expect both men to climb this list by the time the next rankings come out.
Outside of the Kickers listed above, the below is a list of veterans waiting in the wings for their next chance:
- Andrew Franks
- Cairo Santos
- Younghoe Koo
- Roberto Aguayo
- Dan Carpenter
- Josh Brown (probably not)
- Travis Coons
- Kyle Brindza
- Jordan Gay
- Zach Hocker
- Shaun Suisham
- Billy Cundiff
- Ross Martin
If anybody would like to learn more on how the rankings are calculated, feel free to reach out to me on twitter @lukeobrien21.
This OTI piece was written by Luke O’Brien Luke has played and coached American Football for 10 years in Ireland as part of the Cork Admirals. He also writes Patriots related content for musketfire.com and everything NFL on his own blog thelateralviewblog.wordpress.com. You can follow Luke on twitter @lukeobrien21