Ranking the top NFL punters this season
Punters are often unheralded for their efforts. But in a league with many average-to-below average teams (21 teams are currently at .500 or below), field position plays a key role every Sunday. Below, we list the top punters through the first seven weeks of the 2015 season, based on PFF grades:
1. Pat McAfee, Colts (+18.6)
After finishing second to Johnny Hekker last year in the grading, McAfee is leading punters by a wide margin this year. The Colts’ offensive struggles have forced him to punt a lot (third-most this season, with 37), but he’s responded by leading the league with a 46.2 net punting average, forcing 11 fair catches and downing 13 punts inside the 20.
2. Sam Koch, Ravens (+13.9)
Like McAfee, Koch is one of the few bright spots on an underachieving team. Koch ranks fifth in the NFL with a 48.1 gross punting average, and second with a 44.0 net average, downing 10 inside of the 20-yard-line without a touchback.
3. Sam Martin, Lions (+12.5)
Continuing with punters from disappointing 2014 playoff teams, Martin has followed an impressive 2014 campaign (he finished third last season with a +31.5 PFF grade) by posting respectable gross (46.5) and net (41.0) punting averages, with good hang time and 13 punts downed inside the 20.
4. Dustin Colquitt, Chiefs (+11.3)
Punt returners have averaged only 5.8 yards on 15 returns of Colquitt punts, leading to his third-best net punting average (43.5). He has also forced eight fair catches and had 15 punts downed inside the 20, with the latter being second in the league.
5. Chris Jones, Cowboys (+11.0)
While he has only punted 25 times this season thus far, Jones has forced 10 fair catches on these punts, and has had 10 downed inside the 20. The Cowboy is one of four full-time punters without a touchback this season.
6. Johnny Hekker, Rams (+10.5)
After being PFF’s highest-graded punter in 2014 (+40.5), Hekker has posted 46.7 and 41.5 gross and net punting averages, respectively. Has also completed a 20-yard pass on a fake punt, his sixth career completion.
7. Matt Bosher, Falcons (+9.6)
Last season’s fourth-highest graded punter leads the league by almost a yard with a 49.8 gross punting average, with a maximum hang time of an impressive 5.60 seconds. He’s currently ninth in the league in net punting average at 42.5 yards per punt.
8. Britton Colquitt, Broncos (+8.7)
After finishing 24th among full-time punters in 2014 PFF grades (-0.9), Colquitt has rebounded with a positive grade this season. Colquitt has helped the top-ranked Broncos defense by pinning nine of his 32 punts inside the 20, although below-average coverage (11.17 average on 12 returns) has led to his 39.5 net average thus far.
9. Brett Kern, Titans (+8.2)
His net punting average (36.5) has been hampered by poor coverage (17.6 average on 13 returns). Despite this, Kern has had 13 of his 31 punts downed inside the 20, forcing 10 fair catches and surrendering only one touchback.
10. Jon Ryan, Seahawks (+8.0)
Only 36.1 percent of Ryan’s punts have been returned, fifth-lowest among full-time punters. He’s currently 10th in the league in gross punting average (46.8), fourth in punts downed inside the 20 (14), and second in fair catches forced (12).