Ranking the 2013 Free Agents: Kickers
Our analysis of the best available free agents at every position on the field continues today with a look at the men trusted to hit game-winners from 50+ yards.
Ranking the 2013 Free Agents: Kickers
Every day this week we’ve been breaking down the top free agents at each position. It’s more than just looking at our grades, but factoring in longevity, age, injuries and so much more in order to tell you who we think are the best gets out there.
We’re not going to insult your intelligence though when it comes to guys unlikely to hit the open market because of restricted free agency, so don’t expect to see names like Victor Cruz or Brian De La Puente in these pieces. Instead we’re focusing on guys with a real shot at dipping their feet into the free agent pool and making your team better.
You’ve been with us through the offensive positions (quarterback, running back, fullback, wide receiver,tight end, offensive tackle and interior linemen), and now we move to special teams, beginning with the kickers:
(We will assume Jason Hanson will either re-sign with the Lions or retire, and outside of that all of the kickers are fair game for these rankings.)
1. Phil Dawson – to SF: 1-year
2012 Grade: +14.8
Summary: The long-time Brown has been one of the most accurate field goal kickers in recent years. In 2012 he was the third-most accurate kicker, at 93.5%, with his only two misses coming within 40 yards. Beyond 40 yards he was a remarkable 13 for 13. While his average kickoff distance of 65.2 yards isn’t great, the fact that Cleveland’s opponents have an average start at the 19.3 yard line means the unit is doing something right.
2. Steven Hauschka – stays in SEA
2012 Grade: +18.9
Summary: There has been a recent trend for kickers to be much better at kicks beyond 50 yards, but Hauschka hasn’t received the memo as he hit only one of four kicks from the distance last season. However. on everything within 50 yards, Hauschka was a perfect 25 for 25. He also has a nice edge over the competition in terms of kickoffs, with his opponents starting at the 20.3 yard line from his kickoffs. It also helps that most kicker options are a bit older than Hauschka, making him the best long-term solution at the position.
3. Mike Nugent – stays in CIN: 2-year, $2.3m
2012 Grade: +16.9
Summary: Although his field goal percentage of 84.2% doesn’t look great, he was perfect on kicks within 40 yards. While he is not one of the few kickers that is extremely accurate at long kicks, his average kickoff distance of 67.8 yards is the best of the free agent group, and that is a number that stays more consistent than field goal percentage. He is coming off an injury which might be a concern, but since the Bengals liked what they saw from Josh Brown, Nugent might be the most readily available good kicker.
4. Rob Bironas – stays in TEN: 2-year, $6.7m
2012 Grade: +20.8
Summary: In both 2010 and 2011, Bironas was in the Top 4 in terms of field goal percentage. In 2012, while he was still a perfect 18 for 18 within 40 yards, he managed to hit only half of his kicks beyond that point. If 2012 was just a slump that he can get out of, Bironas could very well be the best kicker available. If he can’t get out of it, then he might not keep a job with any team. He has been an average kicker in terms of kickoffs, with 66.5 yards per kick.
5. Lawrence Tynes
2012 Grade: +17.4
Summary: Over the past three years, Tynes has been a perfect 37 for 37 on kicks within 30 yards. He consistently misses a few kicks per year between 30 and 40 yards, another few between 40 and 50, and he rarely attempts kicks beyond 50. He is slightly below average in kickoff distance, at 66.0 yards per kick. While he is only an average kicker at best, that is still better then plenty of kickers in the league, and is certainly good enough to keep himself employed in the NFL.
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