Quit quarreling about the quarterbacks. Cancel the cornerbacks. Remove the running backs from the room. The 2023 NFL Draft’s most fierce positional battle is set to be fought out amongst the specialists, with a talented group of kickers and punters taking to the field for the 2022 college football season. Who are the top players at their respective positions?
Top five kickers in the 2023 NFL Draft
There’s been a kicker selected every year since 2015, and there’s a strong possibility that streak continues in the 2023 NFL Draft. Which cannon-legged clutch kickers are set to follow in the footsteps of recently drafted dynamos such as Cade York, Evan McPherson, and Tyler Bass? With the 2022 season stretching out ahead of us, these are the names to know if you’re team is looking to replace their kicker next April.
5) Daniel Gutierrez, UNLV
UNLV has never had a kicker drafted to the NFL. Furthermore, the Mountain West program hasn’t had a player selected in the NFL’s annual selection event since 2010. In Daniel Gutierrez, they have a prospect who could resolve both of those issues in the 2023 NFL Draft. The former walk-on has emerged as the most accurate kicker in program history and has the opportunity to put his name into the school records book this fall.
17 field goals would make him the most successful UNLV kicker of all time. He already owns the school record with 16 consecutive field goals made between 2020 and 2021. Gutierrez has completed an impressive 88.9% of his career field goals and 96.4% of his point-after attempts. The 5’11”, 220 pounds kicker from California has a career-long of 50 yards and has showcased consistency in making kicks in and around that range.
4) Jonah Dalmas, Boise State
Some of the top kickers coming up through the college ranks have been standout soccer players at some point in their journey, and Jonah Dalmas continues that trend in the 2023 NFL Draft. The diminutive Boise State Bronco was the 2016-2017 Idaho Gatorade State Soccer Player of the Year while at Rocky Mountain High School while also playing football.
The 5’8″, 172 pounds kicker made an immediate impact for Boise State as a true freshman, earning starting honors and making all but one of his field goal attempts. He continued his sensational form as a sophomore, missing three kicks (one of which was blocked). Dalmas is the nation’s top returning kicker in terms of career field goal completion, having nailed 91.7% of his career attempts. He’s demonstrated his clutch capacity by being perfect during Boise State’s biggest games — road wins over BYU and Fresno State — last fall.
3) Noah Ruggles, Ohio State
A top-10 kicker in the nation out of Steinbrenner High School, Noah Ruggles spent the early part of his college career at North Carolina. While nailing every extra point attempt for the Tar Heels, he had limited field goal success during his time there. Handling full-time responsibilities in his sophomore season, Ruggles connected on just 70.4% of his field goal attempts.
Fast forward to 2022, and the Ohio State kicker heads into the upcoming college football season as one of the top returning players at his position. He hit 95.2% of his field goals for the Buckeyes last fall, second in the nation only to Tulsa’s Zack Long. Meanwhile, Ruggles is still yet to miss an extra point attempt in his career, converting 122 efforts. While his career-long field goal stands at 49 yards, Ruggles has more than ample leg to get the job done at the NFL level.
2) Jake Moody, Michigan
It’s been 20 years since Michigan had a kicker selected in the NFL Draft. However, Jake Moody isn’t your average Wolverine. He’s a ball-striking sensation, a special teams wonder. Last season, after converting 92% of his field goal attempts and all 56 extra point attempts, he became the first player in school history to win the coveted Lou Groza Award. Furthermore, he was the first Wolverine to be named the Bakken-Anderson Big Ten Kicker of the Year.
While he had a spotty middle of his Michigan career that impacts his career average, Moody’s heroics last season were reminiscent of his electric freshman season where he made all-bar-one of his field goal attempts. While his 52-yard college long is decent, Moody repeatedly demonstrated the ability to boom the ball from downtown at high school. Meanwhile, he’s nailed game-winning field goals late in the game to prove his mental fortitude.
1) Harrison Mevis, Missouri
The Mevis name has a presence in the NFL Draft for the second year in succession. While Andrew went undrafted out of Iowa State last cycle, Harrison Mevis has the potential to be the top kicker in the 2023 NFL Draft class with a legitimate chance of selection next April. With a booming leg and excellent accuracy, the Missouri kicker has the goods to get the job done at the NFL level.
He’s excelled at every step of his kicking journey. At Warsaw High School, he was named the Burger King Outstanding Athlete. He holds high school records, Missouri freshman records, and just two years into his time with the Tigers has the most 50+ yard conversions in school history. Last season he nailed all three of his 50+ yard attempts, including a career-long 56-yarder against Boston College. Mevis has also never missed an extra point attempt during his first two seasons at the college level.
Honorable mention for the top kickers in the 2023 NFL Draft
- Zack Long, Tulsa
- Chad Ryland, Maryland
- Brayden Narverson, Western Kentucky
- Jake Oldroyd, BYU
- Brandon Talton, Nevada
- Will Reichard, Alabama
- Casey Legg, West Virginia
- Andre Szmyt, Syracuse
Top five punters in the 2023 NFL Draft
Coming off the back of a near-historic punting class, the 2023 NFL Draft has a lot to live up to. While there might not be a punter who has captured the media imagination as Matt Araiza did in the last 12 months, there’s once again a deeply talented group of special teams stars. Who are the premier punters with pro potential that you should be perusing?
5) Bryce Baringer, Michigan State
The bespectacled Bryce Baringer enters the college football season as one of the nation’s premier punters despite his relatively late introduction to the art. A multi-sport athlete who played soccer, golf, and basketball at Notre Dame Prep, the Michigan State man didn’t start punting until his junior season of high school. A former walk-on, he spent time at Illinois and a year away from football before establishing himself as one of the nation’s best.
Boasting a booming leg, Baringer broke the Michigan State single-season punt average last fall with 48.4 yards per punt. His career-long punt of 78 yards is one of the biggest of all 2023 NFL Draft-eligible punters. Not just a strong leg, however, the Spartans standout has downed over 30% of his punts inside the 20 — both last season (33.8%) and for his career (30.2%). Baringer also displays NFL-requisite snap-to-punt and hang time.
4) Lucas Dean, UTSA
A Dunsborough, Australia native, Lucas Dean will look to continue the ever-growing trend of Australian punters in the NFL. One of the most underrated punters in college football, he could have been a part of last year’s NFL Draft class but opted to return to UTSA as one of the top 2023 prospects. He’s an ascending punter who has shown consistent development in multiple facets of the art.
Dean has developed his leg power year over year, culminating in a 73-yard long punt during the 2021 season. Meanwhile, he continues to improve his career punt average after recording 45.2 yards per punt last fall. Where flipping field position is the name of the game, the UTSA prospect landed 44.6% of his punts inside the 20 last year, helping improve his career average to 37.8%. Continuing on an upward trajectory this season should ensure that he proves an alluring 2023 NFL Draft punter prospect.
3) Adam Korsak, Rutgers
Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano has been around a lot of talented football players. While it’s his job to hype tip his current crop, you better believe he’s being serious when he offers up the following assessment of Adam Korsak during the recent Big Ten media days:
“Adam is the best punter that I’ve ever been around in 35 years. That’s a pretty big statement. I’ve been around a lot of them.”
Now, the job of a head coach is to hype up his players before the season. However, when you flip on the tape, it’s easy to see why the field-flipping Australian is the talk of the town. Korsak might not have the highest career punt average in the nation (43.9 YPP), but he’s insanely consistent. Don’t be fooled into thinking he’s got a noodle leg either — his career-long is 79 yards. More impressive is his directional and positional consistency, with over half his punts (52.7%) landing inside the 20-yard line last season.
2) Tory Taylor, Iowa
Between Baringer and Korsak, the Big Ten is amply represented in the list of top punters in the 2023 NFL Draft. However, the best of the bunch is Iowa’s Tory Taylor. Another Australian punting phenom, the Melbourne native makes mullering footballs and making field flips look like the easiest thing in the world. His punting prowess and pro potential is made even more impressive by the fact that he didn’t play football at a high school level.
With a career-long of 69 yards, Taylor statistically doesn’t have the biggest leg in the class. Yet his ability to consistently boom the ball with a high average is more telling than any other stat. He averaged 46.1 yards per punt last fall and has a career average of 45.4. Meanwhile, his consistency stretches to ball placement, with 48.7% of his 2021 punts landing inside the 20 alongside a 47.5% career mark. Taylor routinely puts the Iowa defense in position to succeed with multiple drops near the goal line.
1) Michael Turk, Oklahoma
The mercurial Michael Turk returns for another crack at college football. Will 2023 be the year we see him selected in the NFL Draft? The former Arizona State punter originally declared for the 2020 class after an astounding 2019 campaign, but despite an eye-popping bench press performance, poor punting drills poured water on his campaign to be drafted. However, there’s no denying his candidacy as an early front-runner in this class.
Turk is the candidate most likely to receive the “Araiza” treatment in this class. His career-long 85-yard punt is a testament to his pure leg strength. Last season, he paced the former San Diego State standout by averaging 51.2 yards per punt and boasts a 47.4-yard career average. The Oklahoma punter can consistently down the ball inside the 20, with 41.5% of his career attempts giving his defense good field position. His 4.20 seconds hang time last fall ranked among the best in the nation.
Honorable mention for the top punters in the 2023 NFL Draft
- Lou Hedley, Miami (FL)
- Josh Watts, Transfer portal
- Andy Vujnovich, Wisconsin
- Kyle Ostendorp, Arizona
- Oscar Chapman, Auburn
- Kai Kroeger, South Carolina