Blog Entry

Positional rankings: kickers

Posted on: July 5, 2010 3:38 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2010 3:58 pm
Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit resume their debate, this time taking a look at the top five kickers in the NFL.

D. Akers, the one kicker we agree on (Getty) Josh Katzowitz’s top five

5. Sebastian Janikowski, Raiders

4. Matt Prater, Broncos

3. David Akers, Eagles

2. Stephen Gostkowski, Patriots

1. Nate Kaeding, Chargers

Kickers might get less respect from fans than other position players, but hardly anybody shares the same kind of glory as a kicker after nailing a 52-yard game winner, and hardly anybody can feel the jeers after missing an easy 31-yarder that caused his team to lose.

With that, we start with Kaeding. A little bit of the shine is off him because of the three missed field goals in the 17-14 playoff loss to the Jets last year. But he’s still the most accurate kicker in NFL history (87.2 percent coming into this season). Gostkowski took over for former Patriots K Adam Vinatieri, and he made people instantly forget how good Vinatieri was for New England. Need proof? Check out this Facebook group (ignore the fact there are only 45 members).

You might be averse to 12-year veteran Akers, because people still remember his slump from 2005-07. But last year, he had one of the best seasons of his career and was the best kicker in the league. Prater has bounced around the league a bit, but he found his footing last year. You might not like my Janikowski pick. But he’s got one of the league’s strongest legs and he’s coming off the most accurate season of his career.

Andy Benoit’s top five

5. Olindo Mare, Seahawks

4. Rian Lindell, Bills

3. David Akers, Eagles

2. Ryan Longwell, Vikings

1. Rob Bironas, Titans

Regarding Kaeding being the “most accurate kicker in NFL history”, is it me or have there been about 10 different “most accurate kickers in NFL history” this era? Anyway, I can’t put Kaeding on the list for the same reason you shouldn’t.

Many people forget that Janikowski was a first-round draft pick. In that sense, he has been an underachiever. Gostkowski doesn’t have enough pressure kicks to his name yet. My first memory of Prater is when he admitted to a lack of confidence in 2008. Maybe he got his confidence back in ’09, but I will need at least three years to shake that first memory.

As for the guys on my list, I went with experience. Mare is a booming kickoff specialist - plus he made his last 21 field goals in ’09. Lindell is consistent even in the Buffalo wind (I know, I’m re-using my Brian Moorman analysis). Akers doesn’t quite have the range he once had, but he’s still reliable under pressure. Longwell was 26/28 last year. Bironas is the best long distance kicker in the game (5/6 from 50+ yards last season, range up to 60 yards).

Josh’s rebuttal

It’s surprising that we only have one kicker who made both of our lists. I thought about putting Bironas on my list, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Lindell might be consistent, but he was pretty crappy from outside 40 yards last year (58.3 percent). Could be a fluke, I suppose, because he’s normally better than that from long range. Mare has been pretty up and down in his career, but he is coming off two fantastic seasons, so I can see your point there. Even though our lists are almost completely different, it’s hard to get too worked up about it. I like my list. I like your list. Everybody’s happy.

Andy’s final word

To me, recognizing a great kicker is like recognizing a great free throw shooter. How nervous are you when a kicker lines up to attempt a game-winning field goal against your team? In a casual, unofficial way, that gives you some indication of how great a kicker is (or how great you think he is).

(Other positions: Safety | Cornerback | 3-4 Scheme Outside Linebacker | Punter )

--Josh Katzowitz and Andy Benoit

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Since: Jul 6, 2010
Posted on: July 6, 2010 8:30 pm

Positional rankings: kickers

you are exactly right.

Since: Mar 4, 2008
Posted on: July 6, 2010 5:43 pm

Positional rankings: kickers

I hate to keep stumping for my Raiders, but special teams is what they do well.  I get the sense that Field Goal accuracy was the only criteria here.  If you take touchback percentage into account, then Sebastian Janikowski makes both lists, higher than #5.  The Raiders don't have to cover kickoffs.  Many people don't realize that.  And no, he isn't an underachiever despite being a #1 pick.  That draft was particularly weak when you look at it and there wasn't much left by the final third of that first round, where Oakland was drafting.  (see below).  Obviously Alexander and Hovan would have been better picks, but I put Seabass at #3 on this list of the second half of the first round (2000).  And both of their careers are done, while Janikowski keeps rolling.

Note that really

17 Kicker Florida State 18 New York Jets Quarterback 19 <sup>(from Dallas)</sup> <sup id="cite_ref-1" class="reference"> </sup> Running Back Alabama 20 Tackle 21 Wide Receiver 22 Seattle Seahawks Tackle Wisconsin 23 <sup>(from Miami)</sup> Defensive Back Jackson State 24 San Francisco 49ers <sup>(from Washington)</sup> Cornerback 25 Defensive Tackle 26 Defensive End 27 New York Jets <sup>(from Tampa Bay)</sup> Tight End 28 Linebacker 29 Wide Receiver 30 Linebacker 31 Running Back

Since: May 4, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2010 4:37 pm

Positional rankings: kickers

Many people forget that Janikowski was a first-round draft pick. In that sense, he has been an underachieverAnd Peyton Manning was a first round pick that has only won one superbowl, so in that sense is he an underachiever too?
I really don't see with where you were opicked has anything at all to do with you FG and PAT percentage?
Since Jano was a 1st rounder is he supposed to be 100%????
I guess 99.1% on PATS over 9 years is under achieving then.

this column is a waste of pixels

Since: Oct 25, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2010 1:56 pm

Positional rankings: kickers

Kickers aren't to be ranked.  Kickers aren't to be acknowledged in any way, except with a kick in the ass when they miss.  If you start ackowledging them in a positive way, they may start thinking that they're actually football players and we can't have THAT.  They're only kickers.

Since: Oct 18, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2010 1:25 pm

Positional rankings: kickers

I'll take Reed over almost all of these guys when the game is on the line.

Nate Kaeding is a choker, the Chargers should carry two kickers, one for the regular season and the other for the post-season/big game kicks.

Since: May 19, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2010 12:01 pm

Positional rankings: kickers

I agree: Gould should be up there, easy. He has been money for years. I'm fine with an article on kickers (look at the rest of CBS's articles... this is the best of 'em), I'd just like to see more studying on players before writing. It seems like these guys picked a couple kickers and threw 'em up there. I mean, look at the rebuttles. Do some more research, then write the article. I want to know just as much about these kickers as I do any other position... And Gould should be up there.

Since: Feb 8, 2010
Posted on: July 6, 2010 11:40 am

Positional rankings: kickers

Phil Dawson got snubbed. 9 different kickers on the lists and he isn't on either?

He is one of the 10 most accurate kickers in NFL HISTORY!

Watch his kicks in the 2007 Buffalo game. It was a blizzard and the winds were crazy, he nailed TWO FGs in an 8-0 win!

Since: Aug 25, 2006
Posted on: July 6, 2010 11:31 am

Positional rankings: kickers

I know I'm biased, but were there really nine kickers listed with no mention of Robbie Gould. It's interesting one of the writers mentioned something like "how nervous are you ... " As a Bears fan, I can tell you the thought of Gould missing a game-tying or game-winning kick never even crosses my mind. He's as money as they come.

Is it just because he doesn't have a lot of leg? Gimme the accuracy and consistency over the occasional boomer. You know, kind of like how everyone with a brain would rather have Matt Moore than JaMarcus Russell.

Since: Jul 8, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2010 10:48 am

Positional rankings: kickers

Katzowitz's rankings look like fantasy football rankings, not football rankings.

Since: Feb 2, 2007
Posted on: July 6, 2010 10:46 am

Have either of you idiots heard of Robbie Gould?

Ryan Longwell isn't even the best kicker in his division much less in the NFL?!? 

Gould's currently the 3rd most accurate ACTIVE kicker and the 4th most accurate of all time.

You guys get paid for this crap?

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