Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NFL Draft Averages - Ks/Ps

Previously: QBs, RBs, FBs, WRs, TEs, OTs, OGs, OCs, DTs, DEs, LBs, DBs

This is it, this is definitely it! The final installment of my NFL Draft Averages feature, which will take a look at two positions at once... the very dear to our heart specialists.

Kickers and punters both get a bad rap from fans. They're seen as pretty much useless and a magnet for jokes. However take their area of expertise away and your team will sorely suffer. Maybe some of you already have seen this first hand. For teams, field position is imperative to success. Where would you rather have your opponent start, their 40 or their 10 yard line? Good punters means the chance to pin an opponent in their own territory, leading to less points for them. Punters don't spark as much debate as their cousin the kicker.

Kickers are polarizing people. Not the actual person, but the position. They are regularly the scapegoat for a teams inability to play defense or offense. If I recall correctly, the average score of an NFL game is something like 17-14. The difference? Three points... or a field goal. So, yeah, any time you can put points on the board is important. A kicker is half of your options. Better make it count.

With all of that said I can't really present a case for drafting a kicker or a punter in the draft. Like in fantasy football it's just kind of a waste. Plenty of NFL kickers are undrafted free agents or converted soccer players. Rarely does a drafted specialist give you the value you'd expect from a draft pick. See for yourself.
Draft trends for Ks (1999-2008).

Draft trends for Ps (1999-2008).

In the last 10 drafts 48 specialists have been taken - 25 kickers and 23 punters. One kicker was (foolishly) taken in the first round (Sebastian Janikowski, #17, Raiders, 2000) with another going in round two (Mike Nugent, #47, Jets, 2005). Janikowski is nowhere near the best kicker in the game and Nugent doesn't even kick for New York anymore (signed with Tampa Bay as a free agent this offseason). It just ain't worth it folks! Luckily no punters have been taken before the third round in the last 10 years. Still, a punter in round three? Come on people.

Three kickers and two punters are expected to be taken in the draft based on the results of the last 10 years. There has never been 0 of either position taken though there have been years where only one was selected. There has never been more than three kickers or four punters taken in any draft since 1999. The lists of players will be quite small, especially when compared with the DBs.

Using The Football Expert (K/P) and NFL Draft Scout (K/P) rankings I have listed and categorized the specialists for the 2009 draft.


Will Be Picked

Graham Gano, Florida State

Should Be Picked

Jose Martinez, UTEP

Louie Sakoda, Utah



David Buehler, USC

Pat McAfee, West Virginia

Ryan Succop, South Carolina

Sam Swank, Wake Forest

Austin Starr, Indiana


Will Be Picked

Kevin Huber, Cincinnati

Should Be Picked

Thomas Morstead, SMU


Chris Miller, Ball State

Louie Sakoda, Utah


Justin Brantly, Texas A&M

Jake Richardson, Miami (OH)

Matt Fodge, Oklahoma State

Aaron Perez, UCLA

MY PREDICTION: I fully expect Louie Sakoda to be drafted. His ability to kick and punt will be invaluable and too much to pass up for some team. He could find himself selected in the mid-rounds. After Sakoda we may see one more kicker taken. Kevin Huber will most likely be the only punter selected. Not only is it a down year for specialists, teams may actually be figuring out that, while important to a team, the positions just don't need to be drafted.

UP NEXT: The individual positions have been profiled. However I was hoping to do a Miami Dolphins draft analysis prior to the start of the draft Saturday.

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