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B/R NFL 1000: Top 32 Punters

Matt MillerNFL Draft Lead WriterApril 17, 2014

B/R NFL 1000: Top 32 Punters

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Editor's note: This is the 18th installment in Bleacher Report's NFL 1000 for the 2013 season. This signature series runs through April 24, with NFL Draft Lead Writer Matt Miller ranking the best players at every position. You can read more about the series in this introductory article. See the NFL 1000 page for more rankings. 

    How do you grade and evaluate a punter? It's largely statistical.

    When looking at the best punters in the game, our team focused on things like punting depth, hang time, punts downed inside the 20-yard line and punts kicked out of bounds. But who did it best?

    That’s what the NFL 1000 aims to identify. Throw out the narratives and dig into the film. Then we’ll see who is the best.

    The B/R 1000 metric is based on scouting each player and grading the key criteria for each position. The criteria are weighted according to importance on a 100-point scale.

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

    Punters are judged on power (50 points) and control (50) and all of the technique, athletic ability and football intelligence needed to play the position.

    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 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 (subscription required). Players' heights, weights and seasons from NFL.com

32. Spencer Lanning, Cleveland Browns

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    USA TODAY Sports

     

    Punt Control

    41/50

    Spencer Lanning (5’11”, 200 lbs, one season) had 28 punts stopped inside the 20-yard line, but he rarely drives them as close to the goal line as he could in short-field situations. He doesn’t demonstrate much ability to backspin his kicks and had five touchbacks in 2013. He has some issues with shanking directional punts and had six go out of bounds in his first NFL season.

    Punt Power

    37/50

    Lanning’s hang times are consistently among the lowest in the NFL. He doesn’t get great distance either. He was the only punter in the NFL with no kicks of 60 or more yards in 2013, while his gross punting average of 43.8 yards ranked just 26th in the NFL.

    Total

    78/100

    It took Lanning three years to make an NFL roster, but he’ll be lucky to last that long in the league. He’s in line to be the Cleveland Browns’ punter in 2014, but they’d be smart to bring in competition to push him for his job.

31. Britton Colquitt, Denver Broncos

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    Punt Control

    40/50

    Britton Colquitt (6’3”, 205 lbs, five seasons) had 23 of his 65 punts stopped inside the 20-yard line in 2013. He doesn’t regularly drive kicks deep into opposing territory, but he controls his punts well enough to keep them close to the end zone without going in. He had only three touchbacks and one punt out of bounds.

    Punt Power

    38/50

    Despite playing his home games in a mile-high atmosphere that lends itself to kicking the ball far, you won’t often see Colquitt uncorking punts with exceptional distance or hang time. He averaged 44.5 yards per punt in 2013.

    Total

    78/100

    For a team with one of the NFL’s most potent offenses, Colquitt does an adequate job. He doesn’t often flip the field when punting from deep in his own territory, but he hasn’t had to do that often since Peyton Manning started quarterbacking in Denver.

30. Matt Bosher, Atlanta Falcons

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    36/50

    Matt Bosher (6’0”, 208 lbs, three seasons) had 26 punts stopped inside the 20-yard line and just two touchbacks, but he isn’t a guy who regularly pins kicks in deep territory. When he has to take something off his punts or add backspin in short-field situations, he isn’t as effective. He doesn’t frequently punt the ball directionally or show much prowess doing it. 

    Punt Power

    42/50

    Bosher has an effective punting form in which he explodes into his kicks, and he has one of the stronger legs in the NFL. He ranked ninth in the NFL with a 46.6 yards-per-kick average, but he benefited statistically from playing 11 of his 2013 games indoors. He doesn’t generate the consistent hang time you’d expect of a punter with his ability to drive the ball high into the air.

    Total

    78/100

    He probably wouldn’t fare as well if he played for a cold-weather team, but Bosher’s leg strength makes him a good fit for punting inside the Georgia Dome. 

29. Mike Scifres, San Diego Chargers

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    Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    41/50

    Mike Scifres (6’2”, 215 lbs, 11 seasons) had one of the NFL’s best ratios of pinning opponents in deep territory, as he had 30 punts stopped inside the 20-yard line with just one touchback. He isn’t a frequent or particularly effective directional punter, but he is able to take advantage of short-field situations.

    Punt Power

    38/50

    Scifres has the ability to crush the ball in terms of distance and hang time, but he was an inconsistent deep punter in 2013. His maximum hang time of 5.5 seconds was among the league’s best, but he had some issues with hang-time consistency. He ranked just 28th in the NFL with an average of 43.2 yards per punt.

    Total

    79/100

    The 2013 season wasn’t one of his better years, but Scifres has been a reliable punter for the San Diego Chargers ever since taking over the job in 2004. 

28. Robert Malone, New York Jets

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    40/50

    Robert Malone (6’2”, 215 lbs, four seasons) has already bounced between six teams in his short NFL career (including practice squad), and the biggest reason for that is a lack of control. He isn’t able to consistently control the direction of his punts, doesn’t demonstrate much backspin in short-field situations and is inconsistent with his hang times. In just two games in 2013, Malone had nine punts returned for 107 yards, along with two touchbacks and two going out of bounds.

    Punt Power

    40/50

    An 84-yard punt against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was Malone’s claim to fame in 2013. He averaged 46.3 yards per kick in his two 2013 games, but he wasn’t able to make those distances with appropriate hang times. He regularly outkicks his coverages with low punts that set up opponents for returns.

    Total

    80/100

    Malone was released by the New York Jets prior to Week 3 of the 2013 season and did not resurface with another NFL team. Signed by the Washington Redskins this offseason, he’ll face competition in his opportunity to win the job and keep his NFL punting career alive.

27. Shawn Powell, Buffalo Bills

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    Punt Control

    40/50

    Shawn Powell (6’4”, 243 lbs, two seasons) has yet to stick with a team for a full 16-game season, and his lack of punt control is a driving force behind that. He demonstrates no backspin on punts into deep territory and had five touchbacks in just seven games as a result. Shanked kicks also occur at a higher than acceptable rate, and he has recorded more punts out of bounds (21) than NFL games played (20) in his career.

    Punt Power

    40/50

    Powell has the leg strength to drive the ball deep and flip the field, but he isn’t able to consistently combine his deep kicks with hang time. By kicking it deep without keeping the ball up in the air long enough, he often loses what he gains as returners can take advantage and pick up yardage before coverage reaches them.

    Total

    80/100

    After a Week 5 disaster in which Travis Benjamin of the Cleveland Browns returned seven punts for a whopping 179 yards, the Bills cut Powell. He joined the Cincinnati Bengals for their final two regular-season games but was cut prior to the postseason after he shanked one punt for just 10 yards against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17.

26. Tim Masthay, Green Bay Packers

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    USA TODAY Sports

     

    Punt Control

    40/50

    Tim Masthay (6’1”, 200 lbs, four seasons) is a fairly skilled directional punter who can pin kicks away from returners. He is good at taking something off his punts in short-field situations and rolling them close but not into the end zone. But that might be because he doesn’t kick the ball particularly well to start with. He doesn’t demonstrate much ability to backspin his punts when he lands them.

    Punt Power

    40/50

    By NFL standards for a punter, Masthay has a weak leg. When he is able to kick it far, it’s usually because he kicks with a low trajectory, which can kill his hang time and make the punt easily returnable. Much more comfortable in short-field situations, he doesn’t generate the distance or hang time on his punts to take advantage of situations where he has a full field to work with. 

    Total

    80/100

    Masthay has never been better than an average-at-best punter for the Packers. He doesn’t drive through his kicks with the authority most NFL punters can.

25. Jeff Locke, Minnesota Vikings

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    Associated Press

     

    Punt Control

    39/50

    As he prepares for his second NFL campaign, Jeff Locke (6’0”, 203 lbs, one season) needs to work on improving his punt control, especially in short-field situations. When he takes something off the ball to try to pin it deep rather than punting into the end zone, he tends to take too much off his kicks in distance and hang time. He had 23 punts inside the 20-yard line as a rookie, but he hasn’t shown yet that he can drive the ball deep and backspin it away from the goal line.

    Punt Power

    42/50

    Although Locke didn’t live up to expectations in his rookie season, it wasn’t due to a lack of leg power. When he has a full field to work with, he can boot the ball as far and high as just about anyone in the NFL. If he can become a more well-rounded kicker, Locke will improve upon his 44.2 gross punting average.

    Total

    81/100

    Locke’s first year in the NFL was full of ups and downs, but he is a gifted punter who showed enough to keep the Vikings confident in their 2013 fifth-round draft pick heading into the 2014 season.

24. Sav Rocca, Washington Redskins

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    Associated Press

     

    Punt Control

    42/50

    Sav Rocca (6’5”, 263 lbs, seven seasons) aims his punts toward the sidelines more than any other player in the NFL, and he does so with a varying degree of success. His league-leading 18 punts out of bounds equaled the number of fair catches he forced. While he is typically able to punt directionally without shanking and losing significant distance, you’d like to see any NFL punter exhibit more control in the middle of the field and less reliance on strategic aiming.

    Punt Power

    39/50

    Rocca’s 2013 punts were returned for a total of 655 yards, tied for the most in the NFL, despite his many kicks out of bounds and only 39 returns. By failing to generate ample hang time on longer punts, he regularly outkicks his coverage and gives returners room to gain yardage. His 42-yard gross punting average ranked 30th among qualifying NFL punters, while his 33.8-yard net average was the league’s worst.

    Total

    81/100

    After a subpar 2013 season, Rocca was released by the Redskins earlier this offseason. At 40 years old, his NFL career is likely over.

23. Brett Kern, Tennessee Titans

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

     

    Punt Control

    42/50

    With 32 punts inside the 20-yard line and just two touchbacks, Brett Kern (6’2”, 214 lbs, six seasons) had an impressive ratio of pinning opponents in deep territory. He consistently makes his short-field punts land with low bounce and high backspin, keeping them away from the end zone and allowing his team’s gunners to down them. Part of the reason his ratio is so impressive, however, is that he rarely drives his punts as far as he can, often placing them conservatively between the 10- and 20-yard lines rather than trying to land them as deep as possible.

    Punt Power

    40/50

    Kern’s average distance per punt—43.4 yards in 2013—and hang time are both among the league’s worst. 

    Total

    82/100

    If you were looking for a punter who can regularly flip the field with long punts, Kern wouldn’t be the man for the job. His ability to control kicks, especially in short-field situations, makes him a valuable resource nonetheless.

22. Ryan Quigley, New York Jets

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    37/50

    In his first NFL regular season, Ryan Quigley (6’3”, 188 lbs, one season) was inconsistent. He doesn’t have great control on his directional punts and hasn’t demonstrated much ability to backspin them inside the 20-yard line. He had 34 punts returned, while only six of his efforts were downed by his teammates.

    Punt Power

    45/50

    When Quigley hits a punt squarely, he can stripe the ball down the field. He doesn’t always get enough hang time on his kicks, but he showed improvement over the course of the season. He used his strong leg to average 45.5 yards per punt.

    Total

    82/100

    After cutting him in the preseason, the New York Jets brought Quigley back after two games last season. That proved to be the right decision. He was a steady upgrade over Robert Malone.

21. Thomas Morstead, New Orleans Saints

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    41/50

    Thomas Morstead (6’4”, 235 lbs, five seasons) excels at controlling the spin of his punts into deep territory, allowing him to frequently pin his opponents near their own end zones. He demonstrated that skill with 25 kicks inside the 20-yard line and just five touchbacks. He is more prone to shank punts off the side of his foot than most NFL punters, as evidenced by his 13 boots out of bounds.

    Punt Power

    41/50

    Morstead doesn’t frequently hit punts to a monstrous distance—his long was just 61 yards—but he is consistent in striking the ball deep. Despite punting for a team that often sets him up with shorter fields, Morstead ranked eighth in the NFL with an average of 46.9 yards per punt. Like his distance, he doesn’t frequently record huge hang times but is consistently solid in that category.

    Total

    82/100

    He is able to take advantage of the favorable conditions of playing his home games inside a dome, but Morstead has the all-around game to be a successful punter for any team in the league. 

20. Adam Podlesh, Chicago Bears

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    44/50

    With 27 punts inside the 20-yard line on 68 total attempts, Adam Podlesh (5’11”, 200 lbs, seven seasons) consistently exhibited the control to pin kicks deep in opposing territory. He frequently punts the ball tight to the sidelines, and he can usually do so with effective angles that don’t cost him much distance. He only had 15 punts returned in 2013.

    Punt Power

    39/50

    Podlesh’s 40.6 yards per punt was the lowest gross average among qualifying NFL punters. Part of that can be attributed to playing in Chicago, where the combination of playing on grass and often in cold, windy conditions does not only make it tougher to punt with power, but also means being called upon to kick more regularly in short-field situations. That said, Podlesh’s hang times were also consistently among the league’s worst.

    Total

    83/100

    The lack of distance on his punts puts Podlesh in the bottom half of NFL punters, but he’s not a terrible fit for a team that plays a majority of its games outdoors and in colder climates. He will look to stick with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2014. 

19. Michael Koenen, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    43/50

    An effective directional punter, Michael Koenen (5’11”, 198 lbs, nine seasons) had just 35 of his 87 punts returned. While his 14 punts out of bounds are a higher number than one would like to see, those weren’t always shanks. He isn’t as good at pinning opponents deep, as he had just 19 punts stopped inside the 20-yard line in 2013. 

    Punt Power

    40/50

    There is nothing outstanding about the power Koenen exhibits on his punts, and he ranked just 25th in the NFL with a 44.2 gross punting average. He did not have any moonshot hang times in 2013 either, but he is consistent in kicking the ball high and giving his coverage enough time to get downfield.

    Total

    83/100

    Koenen’s punts don’t often stand out in either a positive or negative way. While he isn’t consistent in kicking the ball far or pinning opponents in deep territory, his accuracy and hang time make his offerings difficult to return.

18. Ryan Allen, New England Patriots

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    Punt Control

    41/50

    Ryan Allen (6’2”, 215 lbs, one season) has little trouble punting the ball all the way down the field, but he had some trouble as a rookie keeping it in play and out of the end zone. He has not yet mastered the art of putting backspin on his punts and had a league-high 12 touchbacks as a result. Despite that, he still had one of the NFL’s best percentages, as 29 of his 76 kicks were stopped inside the 20-yard line.

    Punt Power

    43/50

    Leg strength isn’t an issue for Allen, who can come up with great distances and hang times when he strikes the ball well. He was inconsistent with his hang time as a rookie and only forced 13 fair catches as a result, but he finished the season with a 45.9 yards-per-punt average. 

    Total

    84/100

    It came as a bit of a surprise when the Patriots cut Zoltan Mesko in favor of Allen prior to the 2013 season, but it proved to be the right decision. Allen, who has a significantly stronger leg than Mesko, showed consistent improvement over the course of the season. The two-time Ray Guy Award winner could quickly emerge as one of the NFL’s best punters.

17. Marquette King, Oakland Raiders

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    USA TODAY Sports

     

    Punt Control

    36/50

    Marquette King (6’0”, 192 lbs, one season) has no issues booting the ball deep, but controlling his punts has proven more problematic. Despite averaging 48.9 yards per punt this past season, King had just 23 stopped inside the 20-yard line and 11 fair catches, while 11 punts sailed into the end zone for touchbacks. As he develops as a punter, he needs to learn how to situationally turn his driver into a pitching wedge.

    Punt Power

    48/50

    In his first NFL regular season, King led the league in yards per punt. He has a powerful leg and kicks the ball both long and high, though he was inconsistent with his hang times as a rookie. 

    Total

    84/100

    King’s ability to flip the field with his consistently long punts made keeping him the right decision for the Oakland Raiders in 2013. He has the potential to be among the NFL’s upper echelon of punters, but he has to become more consistent with his hang time and accuracy. Despite leading the NFL in gross average this past season, he ranked 12th in net average, because he had 42 punts returned and forced just 11 fair catches.

16. Jon Ryan, Seattle Seahawks

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    41/50

    With just 82 return yards allowed on 74 punts, Jon Ryan (6’0, 217 lbs, eight seasons) didn’t make it easy for opposing punt returners in Seattle’s Super Bowl championship season. He has some issues with aiming directional punts, but he is able to drive his kicks high into the air and give his gunners time to get in position against return opportunities.

    Punt Power

    44/50

    As evidenced by his 29th-ranked gross average of 42.7 yards per punt this past season, Ryan doesn’t have one of the stronger legs in the NFL. That said, he excels at firing his leg into the ball to kick it high and consistently get great hang time. He forced returners into 30 fair catches, the most in the NFL.

    Total

    85/100

    Seattle was dominant in punting situations last season, and Ryan’s consistently strong hang times played a big role in making his coverage unit look better. While his leg strength is subpar by NFL standards, he’s a more than adequate option for a championship-contending team.

15. Dave Zastudil, Arizona Cardinals

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    Scott Iskowitz/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    47/50

    Dave Zastudil (6’3”, 220 lbs, 11 seasons) tied for the NFL lead with 35 punts stopped inside the 20-yard line this past season, while only six of his kicks went into the end zone for touchbacks. He does an excellent job of landing his punts so that they bounce high, which allows his gunners to catch up to the ball and down it before it can fall into the end zone. He is also a skilled directional punter who can successfully kick away from returners without losing much yardage. Only three of his punts went out of bounds in 2013.

    Punt Power

    39/50

    Zastudil struggles to punt the ball highly enough to attain significant hang times. He had one of the lowest maximum hang times (5.0 seconds) among NFL punters in 2013, and his kicks typically stay in the air for significantly less time. He has a strong leg and averaged 45.7 yards per punt, but he often outkicks his coverage due to his poor hang times.

    Total

    86/100

    Having punted for three NFL teams, Zastudil has been consistent in every stop. There are few punters who can more effectively turn a short field into a long road for his team’s opponent. He was re-signed to a two-year deal by the Cardinals this offseason.

14. Donnie Jones, Philadelphia Eagles

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    Elsa/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    40/50

    With 33 punts downed inside the 20-yard line and just five touchbacks, Donnie Jones (6’2”, 221 lbs, 10 seasons) was one of the NFL’s best at pinning teams deep in their own territory. He can effectively control his distance on short-field punts and had just 28 of his 82 offerings returned in 2013.

    Punt Power

    46/50

    Jones can drill the ball deep, but he doesn’t do so consistently. Though he had a maximum hang time of 5.3 seconds, his average would be much lower. Some of his longest kicks came as a result of returners lining up closer to him after shorter kicks, allowing him to punt the ball over their heads and get a generous roll.

    Total

    86/100

    The Philadelphia Eagles became Jones’ fifth team in 2013. Although the two-time second-team All-Pro selection didn’t have one of his best seasons, he was a reliable upgrade over 2012 punter Mat McBriar. He signed a three-year contract extension this offseason to remain in Philadelphia.

13. Sam Koch, Baltimore Ravens

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    Associated Press

     

    Punt Control

    41/50

    Sam Koch (6’1”, 218 lbs, eight seasons) has a fluid punting form and spins his kicks well, but he isn’t known for pinning his opponents deep. With just 27 of his 90 punts downed inside the 20-yard line, he had one of the NFL’s lowest punts-inside-the-20 percentages this past season. Of his 90 attempts in 2013, 46 were returned.

    Punt Power

    45/50

    With a long punt of 69 yards and an average of 46, Koch showed his ability to punt the ball deep. He isn’t able to consistently match his power with hang time, which results in low kicks being returned and dropped his net punting average to 38.9 yards.

    Total

    86/100

    Koch might never be regarded as one of the league’s best punters, but he’s been consistent and reliable for the Ravens since 2006. He is signed with Baltimore through 2015.

12. Dustin Colquitt, Kansas City Chiefs

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    Associated Press

     

    Punt Control

    43/50

    Dustin Colquitt (6’3”, 210 lbs, nine seasons) is one of the NFL’s best at working with a short field and pinning opponents close to their own end zones. He is adept at putting backspin on his kicks to keep them in play, a skill that helped him tie for the league lead with 35 punts inside the 20-yard line this past season. His touchback total (11) is high, but his punts near the end zone pin teams deep more often than not.

    Punt Power

    43/50

    Colquitt shows the ability to launch the ball deep, but his hang times are usually significantly lower than his 5.3-second maximum. His average of 46.0 yards per punt tied for 11th among players with at least 40 attempts in 2013.

    Total

    86/100

    He might not wow with his leg strength, but Colquitt is one of the league’s most well-rounded punters. He provides stability at the position for Kansas City’s special teams.

11. Bryan Anger, Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Associated Press

     

    Punt Control

    40/50

    Bryan Anger (6’3”, 202 lbs, two seasons) has the leg strength to get the ball deep on any punt attempt, but he is still learning how to effectively spin his kicks. He had 47 of his 95 punts returned this past season, though returners only averaged seven yards.

    Punt Power

    47/50

    Few punters on top of their games can boom the ball further than Anger. He consistently kicks the ball high and deep when he has a long field to work with. His maximum hang time of 5.6 seconds tied for the NFL’s best in 2013. 

    Total

    87/100

    One of the NFL’s most talented punters and just 25 years old, Anger should be one of the league’s best for many years to come if he can become more consistent.

10. Chris Jones, Dallas Cowboys

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    Associated Press

     

    Punt Control

    38/50

    The toughest part of Chris Jones’ (6’0”, 197 lbs, three seasons) job is dodging the mega-screen hanging over the field in Dallas. That in and of itself takes control. Just two of his punts went out of bounds and only five counted as touchbacks, but he also kicked indoors often. Control is not a weakness, but it’s not yet a strength.

    Punt Power

    49/50

    You have to love the sound the ball makes coming off Jones’ foot. His long of 62 yards may not seem that impressive, but his consistency was. He averaged 44.9 yards per punt and also showed impressive height and hang time, drawing 27 fair catches on just 77 punts.

    Total

    87/100

    Jones has big potential, and as long as he’s kicking in the comfy, controlled settings of JerryWorld, he should be just fine.

9. Steve Weatherford, New York Giants

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    Al Bello/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    40/50

    A seasoned pro, Steve Weatherford (6’2”, 211 lbs, eight seasons) is remarkably consistent. On 91 punts, 12 went out of bounds and seven were counted as touchbacks. He also controlled his hang time well, showing an on-par maximum of 5.1 seconds and drawing 17 fair catches.

    Punt Power

    47/50

    Weatherford has the strength to push the ball. His long of 68 yards is impressive (No. 10 on the season) and backs up his 46.9-yard average. His ability to consistently put up those numbers in the windy, unpredictable elements of MetLife Stadium makes it all the more impressive.

    Total

    87/100

    Weatherford is a top-tier punter with the ability to swing into the upper reaches of the rankings.

8. Kevin Huber, Cincinnati Bengals

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    39/50

    Playing outside in Cincinnati means unpredictable elements, and Kevin Huber (6’1”, 212 lbs, five seasons) handles them well. On 66 punts during the regular season, he had just four touchbacks, a testament to his ability to drop the ball down with accuracy. His maximum hang time of five seconds is on the low side, but he does a good job forcing fair catches.

    Punt Power

    49/50

    One of the more powerful punters in the NFL, Huber launches the ball regularly. His long of 75 yards was the best among qualifying punters, and with an average of 44.8, you have to respect the distance he brings every time the ball gets dropped.

    Total

    88/100

    Huber kicks outside in the cold and gets the job done. His power makes up for some control and placement issues when it matters most. He will look to bounce back after fracturing his jaw and cracking his vertebra late last season. 

7. Sam Martin, Detroit Lions

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    Harry How/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    41/50

    A stud in his first season, Sam Martin (6’1”, 205 lbs, one season) was a home run hitter for Detroit.

    Punt Power

    49/50

    With a long of 72 yards, Martin showed off his range, but he also showed consistency, averaging 47.1 yards per punt. That’s high-level. So was his ability to kick under pressure and in all kinds of elements in the NFC North. While he did kick inside Ford Field’s comfy confines, that wasn’t the case in Green Bay or Chicago.

    Total

    90/100

    Martin wasn’t on our preseason watch list, but he quickly made his way into the rankings as his strong play for the Lions caught everyone’s attention.

6. Pat McAfee, Indianapolis Colts

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

     

    Punt Control

    46/50

    Powerful and controlled, Pat McAfee (6’1”, 233 lbs, five seasons) remains one of the NFL’s best. On 76 punts, he kept all but six out of the end zone and nailed 27 inside the 20-yard line. Directional punting is one of his best assets, as he’s able to put the ball in the corner and let his guys get to it on time.

    Punt Power

    44/50

    McAfee has plenty of power in his leg, and in his tackling ability. His long of 65 yards is impressive, even when you factor in that he does often kick indoors. His average of 46 yards is high-level and shows that he’s not just a one-shot wonder. 

    Total

    90/100

    McAfee is one of the best, and the Colts put enough value in him to lock the free agent up long term this offseason. 

5. Johnny Hekker, St. Louis Rams

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    USA TODAY Sports

     

    Punt Control

    45/50

    Johnny Hekker (6’5”, 236 lbs, two seasons) is a big, intimidating man on the football field. When he drops the ball, you know he’ll get the job done. His control is as impressive as his power, and he showed that off by keeping all but four of his 78 punts out of the end zone. 

    Punt Power

    45/50

    Hekker does most of his kicking indoors, but he’s still showing impressive power compared to the rest of the league. His average of 46.3 is respectable, and his long of 64 puts him up there with his peers. You also have to love his 5.6-second max hang time. 

    Total

    90/100

    Hekker enjoyed an amazing rookie season and backed that up with a strong sophomore campaign. He’s on track to be one of the best in the league soon.

4. Shane Lechler, Houston Texans

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    Punt Control

    45/50

    Shane Lechler (6’2”, 237 lbs, 14 seasons) has the longevity and production to rank as one of the best punters of the last decade. His 2013 is definitely part of the resume. His control has always been good, but he showed it off again by having just one punt go out of bounds and only seven touchbacks. He also landed 34 kicks inside the 20-yard line.

    Punt Power

    45/50

    On 88 punts, Lechler was solid with an average of 47.4 and a hang time of 5.3 seconds. He also had a respectable long of 65 yards. He doesn’t have the big, booming leg, but he is strong enough to keep offenses pinned deep.

    Total

    90/100

    Lechler has been around the NFL for a long time, but he’s still one of the game’s most productive punters. A move to Houston—and an indoor stadium—was good for him.

3. Brad Nortman, Carolina Panthers

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    Associated Press

     

    Punt Control

    41/50

    The Carolina Panthers were a surprise team in 2013, and some of that credit goes to Brad Nortman (6’2”, 210 lbs, two seasons). His ability to pin offenses deep in their own territory came in handy, and his five touchbacks on 70 punts was one of the better ratios in the league. You’d like to see fewer kicks out of bounds (seven), but his control was there.

    Punt Power

    49/50

    Where Nortman jumps off the screen is with his power. An average punt of 47.7 yards is top-notch, and he also showed good hang time with a maximum of 5.3 seconds. When looking at pure power, he had a 72-yard punt to his credit.

    Total

    90/100

    Nortman was a player who really surprised in 2013, and his production and impact speak loudly. He’s legitimately one of the league’s best.

2. Andy Lee, San Francisco 49ers

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    Associated Press

     

    Punt Control 

    45/50

    Andy Lee (6’2”, 180 lbs, 10 seasons) has reached legendary status among punters of this generation. His control is impressive given the windy conditions in San Francisco, and you see that in his directional ability and his skill in keeping punts out of the end zone. Just eight of his 79 kicks during the regular season were touchbacks.

    Punt Power

    45/50

    Lee can push the ball as well as anyone, but we did see a bit of a drop-off in power this year. Still, his long of 62 is solid, and you can’t argue with an average of 48 yards, with a maximum hang time of 5.6 seconds.

    Total

    90/100

    If you were picking an All-Decade team, Lee would be on it. He’s still one of the game’s best even if his performance in 2013 wasn’t as impressive. 

1. Brandon Fields, Miami Dolphins

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    Associated Press

     

    Punt Control

    43/50

    Brandon Fields (6’5”, 249 lbs, seven seasons) may have been the Miami Dolphins’ most valuable player in 2013. His showed off the ability to not only boom kicks but determine where they would land. On 85 punts, he had just seven touchbacks, a testament to his control.

    Punt Power

    50/50

    A 48.8-yard average from Fields is impressive, but look at his long (74 yards) as evidence of his ability to drill punts down the field. His raw power and ability to plant the ball high (a maximum hang time of 5.1 seconds) and long is ideal.

    Total

    93/100

    Fields has proven over the course of his career to be one of the NFL’s most consistent and productive punters. When evaluating his play and not just the raw numbers, there is no other choice for the top spot.

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