This season has been a strange one for kickers. We have seen veterans and rookies labelled villains and heroes in consecutive weeks. Kicking has evolved from a situation where if a kicker made a kicker it was a bonus to a situation where it is an expectation to make it. And in a cut throat business that the NFL is, the role of the kicker is the most cut throat of all. One bad day and you could be kicked to the curb. On the other side, it gives the opportunity to be a team hero and perhaps in some people’s eyes, the opportunity to be a hero on their fantasy team. It has become one of the most important roles in the sport for a teams success. Below we will look at the top performers in the league now and what sets them aside from the others.
This past week Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal making him the highest score person in NFL history with a total of 2550 points. He also has 4 super bowl rings lying in his pockets. Not a bad haul fora man that originally started his professional career with the Amsterdam Admirals. Often when asked how does one successfully preform at the range he is preforming, it all generally boils down to one key factor that drives him: his competitiveness.
The man who could not miss an extra point until a couple of weeks ago. And judging by his face to the left, it was as much a shock to him as it was to the rest of us. He leads all NFL kickers in success kicker percentage with a percentage of 89.9%. In my opinion there is no one i would trust more with a kick than Tucker inside 60 yards and all the stats back that up. If any current kicker has a chance of catching Vinatieri, you wouldn’t be winning big with the odds of tucker doing it.
Outside of 60 yards, I would pick Graham Gano. Despite Matt Prater (64 yards in 2013) kicking a longer field goal, he did so before the half time break. Important but not as important as Gano’s 63 yard kick as time ran out to give the panthers a two point win over the giants. This really was a win or lose the game situation for Gano and by god did he show a set of balls in making the kick. And looking at the kick, he could have dropped back a few more yards and still made the kick.
One of the reasons the Patriots have had such success over the past few years is that they have had a reliable kicker. After Vinatieri left the Patriots in 2006, Gostkowski was selected in the 4th round of the draft as his replacement. Despite some early struggle, Gostkowski has gone on to be a back bone to the Bill Belichick dynasty. He currently ranks second overall in successful kicks percentage with a percentage of 87.7% and ranks 16th on the all time highest point scorer in the NFL (roughly 900 points behind Vinatieri). In his first 7 years with the patriots,he did not miss an extra point kick setting a NFL record of 476 consecutive successful extra point kicks. Throw in 2 super bowls and 4 pro bowls, I am sure somewhere in Gostkowski’s mind he has to be thinking that Vinatieri’s record isn’t totally out of reach.