Ranking NFL Punters 2023
Ranking NFL Punters 2023
As we gear up for the 2023 NFL season, it’s time to take a look at the league’s elite NFL punters. After careful consideration and evaluation, the top 10 were ranked, with punters from the Kansas City Chiefs and Seattle Seahawks occupying the top two spots on the list.
If you’re curious about the top-tier punters in the NFL, you’ve landed in the right spot to uncover the answers.
Over the past few weeks, Punter.net has undertaken the task of ranking every position group in the NFL Punters. Now, we arrive at what is often considered the most crucial position: Punters.
The life of a punter in the NFL is often thankless. When they perform well, their efforts go unnoticed, but even a single mistake can lead to calls for their removal from the team. It’s important to note that unlike other players, most punters are also required to have additional responsibilities unrelated to punting, such as kickoff specialist or holder duties.
In this ranking, we will only focus on the punting aspect of their job. Essentially, a punter’s role revolves around one objective: maximizing field position by pinning the opponent deep in their own territory.
One of the challenges in ranking punters lies in the fact that not every NFL punters team pursues the same approach to achieve the desired goal. Each punter may have different instructions: some are asked to kick the ball out of bounds, others to keep it near the sideline without going out, while some focus on distance and others aim for high hang time to force a fair catch. Near the end zone, some attempt coffin corner kicks, while others try to loft the ball high, hoping it lands inside the 10-yard line.
As evident, punting is far from a simple task. It is an underappreciated aspect of the NFL Punters ranked, and now it’s time to shed some light on the most underappreciated players through our ranking of the top 10 punters in the league.
1. Michael Dickson, Seahawks
Michael Dickson, the highest-paid punter in the NFL, has solidified his place as the best punter in the league. With his exceptional punting skills, he has earned the top spot in our ranking for two consecutive years.
Precision and Placement
One of Dickson’s standout qualities is his remarkable ability to precisely place the ball wherever he desires. This precision has led to the Seattle Seahawks’ punt coverage unit becoming one of the most effective in the NFL punters. In 2022, opposing punt returners could only manage an average of 5.9 yards per return against the Seahawks, the lowest in the league among teams with at least 25 return attempts.
Dickson’s proficiency is reflected in his net punting average of 44.4 yards last season, which ranked him second in the NFL punters. A significant example of his prowess came in a Week 15 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers, where he averaged 49.9 yards on seven punts. Notably, he pinned the 49ers inside their own 15-yard line three times, including one punt that was downed at the 1-yard line.
Dickson’s excellence was also on display during a game in Germany, where he placed an astounding four punts inside Tampa Bay’s 14-yard line in a close 21-16 loss in Week 10. This level of performance demonstrates his ability to consistently execute precise and impactful punts.
A Successful Gamble
When the Seahawks traded up to acquire Dickson in 2018, many Seattle fans may have been skeptical of investing so heavily in a punter. However, the gamble has proven worthwhile and then some. Throughout his five seasons in the league, Dickson has maintained his status as one of the best punters in the NFL, solidifying his well-deserved position at the top of our list.
2. Tommy Townsend, Chiefs
Tommy Townsend has emerged as one of the top punters in the NFL through his excellent performances for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Consistently High Performance
Even though the Chiefs are mostly known for their high-powered offense, the team’s punting game has been exceptional under Townsend. With a net average of 45.6 yards, he led the NFL Punters in 2022, a significant improvement over his second-place finish in the previous season. Notably, no other punter in the league came within a yard of Townsend’s impressive average.
Townsend’s net punting average was tied for the second-highest in the league since at least 1976, according to the Football Database. This accomplishment epitomizes his absolute dominance in the punting game.
Pinning Opponents Down
Furthermore, Townsend’s accuracy is evident from his remarkable ability to pin opponents deep in their own territory, as he managed to do so on 42.9% of his kicks, ranking him in the top 10 in the NFL.
As Townsend heads into the final year of his contract, it becomes crucial for the Chiefs to decide whether they want to keep him on board, given that he deserves top compensation after his All-Pro selection in 2022. Thus, his outstanding ability has earned him the second spot on our list.
3. Johnny Hekker, Panthers
Johnny Hekker has established himself as one of the premier punters in the NFL, consistently delivering exceptional performances throughout his career.
Since his rookie season in 2012, Hekker has been a force to be reckoned with, consistently displaying his exceptional punting skills. Despite playing for a struggling Rams team from 2012-2016, Hekker emerged as a standout player, often being the lone bright spot on his team.
Hekker’s career average of 46.9 yards per punt stands as the sixth-highest in NFL history, which is a testament to his leg strength and ability to generate significant distance on his punts. However, it’s important to note that yards per punt alone doesn’t provide a comprehensive measure of a punter’s skill. Fortunately, Hekker excels in net yards per punt as well. In 2022, he achieved a net average of 44.1 yards per punt, ranking him third in the league.
Effective Fair Catches and Limited Returns
One of Hekker’s key strengths is his ability to force opponents to call for fair catches. In the previous season, he compelled his opponents into 31 fair catches, which was the second-highest number in the league. This skill is highly regarded by coverage teams, as it reduces the chances of a return and minimizes potential risks.
Additionally, Hekker’s strategic punting style limited the number of returns. Out of his 81 punts in 2021, only 27 were returned, while the rest were downed, went out of bounds, or resulted in a fair catch. This proficiency demonstrates Hekker’s skill in placing his punts effectively.
Pinning Opponents Deep
Hekker has mastered the art of pinning opponents deep in their own territory. In the previous season, 48.1% of his punts landed inside the opponent’s 20-yard line, second only to another aspect of his game, his ability to consistently place punts in a favorable position.
New Beginnings in Carolina
2022 marked Hekker’s first season with the Carolina Panthers. The change of scenery seemed to provide a boost to his already impressive performance, as he continued to display his skill and played a vital role in the Panthers’ special teams unit.
Overall, Johnny Hekker has proven himself as one of the top punters in the NFL, with his consistent excellence in distance, net averages, fair catches, and effectively pinning opponents.
4. Ryan Stonehouse, Titans
Ryan Stonehouse, an undrafted free agent, made a significant impact in his rookie season, delivering an outstanding performance that ranks among the best in NFL history.
Stonehouse’s punting season in 2022 was nothing short of exceptional, setting a new standard for punting excellence. He averaged a remarkable 53.1 yards per punt, shattering Sammy Baugh’s 82-year-old NFL record of 51.4 yards per punt set in 1940. This achievement is particularly impressive considering Stonehouse punted the ball 90 times, the second-highest in the league during that season.
Stonehouse’s leg strength is evident in the sheer power with which he punts the ball. However, his powerful kicks sometimes caused him to outkick his coverage. Despite his impressive punting average, opposing teams were able to average 10.8 yards per punt return against him, ranking him sixth-worst in the league in punt coverage. Nevertheless, Stonehouse managed to maintain a 44 net yards per punt average, which placed him fourth in the NFL punters ranking.
Bright Future with the Titans
Stonehouse’s exceptional rookie season has undoubtedly earned him a place as the Titans’ punter for the foreseeable future. As an undrafted free agent, the Titans discovered a hidden gem in Stonehouse, and his powerful leg and ability to consistently deliver impressive punts make him a valuable asset to the team.
Ryan Stonehouse’s record-breaking rookie season and powerful punting skills have established him as a formidable punter in the NFL, and his future with the Titans appears bright.
5. A.J. Cole, Raiders
Amidst the Raiders’ struggles in the 2022 NFL punters season, A.J. Cole emerged as a bright spot for the team, delivering a standout performance as their punter.
Cole excelled in two key categories among NFL punters in the 2022 season – yards per punt and net yards per punt. He maintained an average of 48.9 yards per punt, ranking him in the top five in the league, while achieving 43.9 net yards per punt, which further solidified his status as one of the top punters in the NFL.
One of Cole’s strengths as a punter is his ability to limit touchbacks, as evidenced by the single touchback he allowed in the 2022 season. This low number was unsurprisingly among the league’s lowest for punters who punted more than 15 times. Additionally, Cole’s strategic punting skills led him to place 44.1% of his punts inside the opposing team’s 20-yard line, ranking him seventh-best among NFL punters.
Cole earned first-team All-Pro honors in the 2021 season, highlighting his exceptional punting skills.
Despite his impressive punting, Cole struggled with coverage at times in the 2022 season. He tended to outkick his coverage, which allowed opponents to average 11 yards per return against the Raiders, ranking amongst the league’s bottom five in that regard.
Exceptional Special Teams
With Cole and kicker Daniel Carlson both ranking in the top five at their respective positions, the Raiders have an exceptional special teams unit that they can rely on in the coming season.
A.J. Cole delivered an impressive punting performance for the Raiders in the 2022 season, with his strengths in yards per punt, net yards per punt, limiting touchbacks, and accurate punting playing vital roles in the team’s special teams success.
6. Bryan Anger, Cowboys
Bryan Anger has established himself as a reliable and impactful punter in the NFL, entering his 12th season with no signs of slowing down.
Anger’s punting performance in the 2022 season was noteworthy, as he ranked in the top 10 in both punting average and net punting average. He boasted an impressive average of 48.4 yards per punt, combined with 42.8 net yards per punt. Notably, Anger launched an 83-yard punt, which was the longest punt in the NFL for the 2022 season, showcasing his strength and skill as a punter.
Anger’s notable punting performance in the 2022 season was consistent with his overall career success. He was also voted a second-team All-Pro in the 2021 season, reflecting his consistent punting excellence over the years.
It is worth mentioning that Anger was famously drafted in the third round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, only five picks ahead of Russell Wilson. Even though this decision attracted criticism at the time, Anger has established himself as a skilled and reliable punter, silencing any doubts about his talent.
Bryan Anger’s impressive punting performance, combined with his history of consistent success, demonstrate his value as a highly skilled and reliable punter in the NFL.
7. Logan Cooke, Jaguars
Logan Cooke has been a standout player for the Jacksonville Jaguars, providing a significant impact on special teams. While he may not be the focal point of the team now, Cooke continues to be a valuable weapon as their punter.
Impressive Punting Stats
Cooke’s performance in the 2022 season placed him among the top punters in the league. He ranked third in the NFL in yards per punt with an average of 49.3 yards, emphasizing his ability to deliver booming kicks. Additionally, Cooke ranked sixth in net yards per punt with an average of 43.8 yards, highlighting his effectiveness in gaining field position for the Jaguars.
Exceptional Directional Punting
Cooke’s directional punting skills are highly regarded in the NFL. In the 2022 season, the Jaguars’ punt coverage team showcased their strength as opposing punt returners were limited to an average of only seven yards per return. This impressive statistic placed the Jags’ punt coverage unit in the top seven of the league.
Cooke’s reliability and consistency over the past four seasons further solidify his value as one of the most consistent punters in the NFL. He has consistently ranked in the top eight in yards per punt, providing the Jaguars with a reliable weapon on special teams.
Logan Cooke’s impressive punting ability, directional skills, and consistent performance make him a vital asset for the Jacksonville Jaguars’ special teams unit.
8. Jack Fox, Lions
Jack Fox’s journey in the NFL has been a tale of resilience and impressive performance. Despite going undrafted in 2019 and facing initial setbacks, he has emerged as one of the most consistent and valued punters in the league.
Fox’s career began with uncertainties, as he went undrafted in 2019 and was subsequently released by the Chiefs before the season started. However, the Detroit Lions took a chance on him prior to the 2020 season, a decision that would prove to be highly rewarding.
Fox has displayed remarkable consistency as a punter over the past three years. In the 2022 season, he averaged 48.6 yards per punt, positioning him among the top performers in the NFL. This impressive average ranked him sixth in the league, emphasizing his ability to consistently deliver lengthy punts.
The Lions’ confidence in Fox’s abilities is clearly evident, as they signed him to a lucrative three-year contract extension in October. This deal solidifies his stature as one of the highest-paid punters in the NFL, with an annual payout of $3.49 million.
Jack Fox’s journey from undrafted to becoming one of the most consistent punters in the league demonstrates his resilience and ability to seize opportunities. His performance and recognition by the Lions have cemented his status as a valuable asset to the team.
9. Tress Way, Commanders
Tress Way, the punter for the Washington Commanders, has established himself as one of the most consistent and reliable punters in the NFL. With impressive statistics and a history of performance, he has solidified his position as a key player on the team.
Way has continually demonstrated his excellence as a punter, ranking seventh in the NFL for net yards per punt with an average of 43 yards per punt during the 2022 season. This is an impressive feat, given he was asked to perform his duties 83 times, tied for the fourth-most in the league.
Impressive Career Statistics
Way’s consistent performance over the past several years has resulted in him being recognized as one of the best punters in the league. He ranked in the top five in yards per punt in both the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Since entering the NFL in 2014, Way’s kicking abilities have continued to improve, establishing him as a top-tier punter. In 2018, he led the league in punts inside the 20 and did not kick a single touchback, which is a rare accomplishment in the NFL Punters.
Dominant Punting Abilities
Way’s highly effective punting has led to significant gains for the Washington Commanders. During the 2022 season, he placed 44.6% of his punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, ranking sixth in the NFL Punters ranking. This allowed for excellent field positioning and helped restrict the opposing team’s scoring opportunities. The Commanders surrendering only 6.4 yards per punt return was the fourth-best in the league, highlighting the impact of Way’s punts.
Tress Way’s outstanding performance, remarkable career statistics, and dominant punting abilities make him a key player on the Washington Commanders and among the most valued punters in the NFL.
10. Ryan Wright, Vikings
Ryan Wright, a rookie punter for the Minnesota Vikings, has quickly established himself as a valuable asset to the team. Despite going undrafted in 2022, he managed to secure the starting job over Jordan Berry and showcased his talent throughout the season.
Wright proved his versatility early in the season, demonstrating that he can contribute more than just punting. In Week 4, he made a crucial 13-yard pass on a fourth down, resulting in a first down for the Vikings. This display of skill highlighted his ability to contribute to the team beyond his primary role as a punter.
Throughout the season, Wright consistently delivered impactful punts for the Vikings. In Week 6, he punted the ball 10 times, including a booming 73-yard punt from his own end zone, which helped secure a crucial win for the team. Although Wright did not finish in the top 10 for punting average and net punting average, his exceptional ball placement compensated for it. He had the lowest touchback percentage in the NFL Punters, with only one touchback on 73 punts. Additionally, he ranked fifth in the league for the percentage of punts placed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, with an impressive 44.7%. These statistics highlight his proficiency in key categories for a NFL punters.
Wright’s impressive performance as a rookie punter during the 2022 season exemplifies the impact that rookies had in the punting game. Wright is one of only two rookies to make it onto our top-10 list Ranking of NFL Punters 2023, further highlighting his talent and potential.
Ryan Wright’s versatile contributions, stellar performance, and notable achievements as a rookie punter have solidified his position as a valued player on the Minnesota Vikings‘ roster.