These 2023 NFL Draft prospects put the special into special teams. These 2023 NFL Draft prospects put the foot into football. Forget the quarterback conversation, the top kickers and punters in the 2023 draft class have the potential to kick that competition into next week.
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?
Top 5 Kickers in the 2023 NFL Draft
5) Daniel Gutierrez, UNLV
While kicking inside a closed arena for UNLV might impact how Daniel Gutierrez is viewed as a prospect in the 2023 NFL Draft, there’s no doubt that the Rebels’ kicker is an extremely talented and reliable placekicking option in this class.
Gutierrez heads to the 2023 NFL Draft as an ascending kicker coming off the best season of his career. He hasn’t missed an extra point attempt in two years, and while handling the heaviest work in his six years with the program in 2022, he nailed a career-high 94.7% of his attempts. Additionally, he’s showcased good leg strength with a 50+ yard attempt in three of his six seasons (Gutierrez only had one attempt in 2018).
4) Chad Ryland, Maryland
Where most people have a foot attached to their leg, Chad Ryland has a bazooka. That’s allowed him to nail a 50-plus-yard attempt in each season of his college football career. Ryland’s career-long is 55 yards, while he hit a 53-yarder this season for the Terrapins.
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Although he holds multiple program records for EMU and Maryland, Ryland needs to demonstrate more consistency. The 2023 NFL Draft prospect missed half of his attempts over 50 yards this fall and is the only kicker on this list of the top prospects at the position to have missed an extra attempt in 2022.
3) Andre Szmyt, Syracuse
While earning an honorable mention in our preseason list of kickers in the 2023 NFL Draft, Syracuse’s Andre Szmyt has elevated his game to the point where he should be considered one of the best in the nation.
After a difficult 2021 season, Szymt rebounded in style this past year — earning an invite to, and participating in, the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl.
When Szymt won the Lou Groza Award as a freshman, he was responsible for 151 of Syracuse’s points as a constant kicker who could get the job done from downtown. His final campaign for the Orange was almost on par with that campaign, although national recognition ultimately eluded him.
Szmyt’s 54-yard long was a top-10 mark in college football last season, while he hit every single extra point he attempted in his final year with Syracuse. Szymt was on course for a career-high field-goal completion percentage midway through the season, but a rough spell through November thwarted an otherwise stellar campaign.
2) Christopher Dunn, NC State
Christopher Dunn has been a bright spark for a North Carolina State program that had high expectations coming into the 2022 CFB season. While the offense has sometimes struggled, Dunn has been as clutch as they come.
Dunn holds the record for most field-goal completions in program history, nailing 97 of his 115 attempts for an 84.3% career percentage.
In his final season, Dunn showcased both power and consistency as a 2023 NFL Draft kicking prospect. He finished his college career without missing a single extra-point attempt. Additionally, the NC State prospect nailed a career-high 96.6% of his field-goal attempts during the 2022 season as he won the Lou Groza Award for the top kicker in the nation.
Dunn demonstrated his leg power with a 53-yard long against FSU, matching his career-long from 2020. Having missed all of his 50+ yard attempts a year ago, Dunn has shown impressive development this season and should attract attention next week.
1) Jake Moody, Michigan
It’s been 20 years since Michigan had a kicker selected in the NFL Draft. But 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, Moody became the first player in school history to win the coveted Lou Groza Award.
Moody’s magic last season was reminiscent of his electric freshman campaign, and after a shaky start to the season, his stock has soared with consistent ball-striking success and clutch performances for the Wolverines in their biggest games.
The Michigan kicker finished his final college campaign by nailing all 60 of his extra-point attempts and compiling an 82.9 completion percentage on field goals that felt unlikely early in the year. Moody’s 59-yard long was beaten only by Stanford’s Joshua Karty.
Although Moody converted less than 50% of his 50+ yard attempts this fall, the Michigan kicker has shown throughout his college and high school career that he has the leg strength and clutch gene to come up big when the game is on the line.
Top 5 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. However, it’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) Lou Hedley, Miami (FL)
With his rare size and tattooed appearance, Lou Hedley has become something of a cult figure for the Miami Hurricanes. It helps when you perform at a constantly high level, and the Australian national has certainly done that.
The 2023 NFL Draft punting prospect has multiple all-conference accolades, All-American recognition, and Ray Guy Award finalist, all written on his college football résumé.
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Hedley is more than just tattoos and titles, however. His 45.2-yard career average is up there with the best in the class, while he’s also downed 37.4% of his career punts inside the 20. Peaking at the right time, Hedley’s 2022 campaign saw him nail half of his attempts deep in opposition territory.
Hedley’s age — he’ll be 28 this year — may be held against him, and he hasn’t had the same degree of booming punts as his contemporaries in the class (the Miami punter has a career-long of 67 yards), but he has the potential to garner interest at the NFL level.
4) Ty Zentner, Kansas State
Jordan Stout’s selection as the first punter off the board in the previous cycle showcased the value that the NFL places on positional versatility. There are few more versatile in the 2023 NFL Draft class than Kansas State standout Ty Zentner.
The former JUCO product has been a multi-phase force for the Wildcats, especially in the past two seasons. Originally a kickoff specialist, he’s been the program’s punter for the last two years and took on placekicking responsibility during his final campaign. As a result, he earned multiple accolades in 2022.
Zentner was perfect on field goals last season, hitting 11 of 11, including a 53-yard strike. Meanwhile, he averaged a career-high 44.5 yards per punt in 2022, placing 45.76% of his attempts inside the 20.
Additionally, 59.44% of Zentner’s kickoffs have gone for touchbacks, with an average of 62.1 yards per attempt. Don’t be surprised if Zentner’s ability to contribute in all phases earns him a selection in the 2023 NFL Draft.
3) Michael Turk, Oklahoma
The mercurial Michael Turk returned for another crack at college football last fall and didn’t disappoint. 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 Turk’s candidacy as a frontrunner in this class. His career-long 85-yard punt is a testament to Turk’s pure leg strength. In his final college campaign, Turk averaged 46.8 yards per punt — a mark that ranked fourth in the nation.
Far from just a pure leg strength and no finesse prospect, Turk’s career inside the 20 average is up there with the best in the nation. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma punter’s 4.20-second hang time last fall ranked among the best in the nation.
2) Bryce Baringer, Michigan State
The bespectacled Bryce Baringer is undeniably 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, Baringer spent time at Illinois and a year away from football before establishing himself as one of the nation’s best at Michigan State.
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Boasting a booming leg, Baringer broke his own Michigan State single-season punt average record in 2022 with an impressive 49.0 yards per punt — a figure that led all college punters last fall. His career-long punt of 78 yards is also one of the longest of all 2023 NFL Draft-eligible punters, and there are 70+ yard punts on his résumé from each of the last three seasons.
Not just a strong leg, however, the Spartans standout has downed over 30% of his punts inside the 20 — both this season (44%) and for his career (34.16%). Baringer also displays NFL-requisite snap-to-punt and hang time, with 5.0+ seconds hung on his college résumé.
1) Adam Korsak, Rutgers
Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano has been around several talented football players. While it’s his job to hype up his current crop, you better believe he’s being serious when he offered up the following assessment of Adam Korsak during the preseason 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.”
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 Korsak’s got a noodle leg, either — his career-long is 79 yards, and he’s hit punts over 70 yards in three of five seasons in Piscataway.
More impressive is Korsak’s directional and positional consistency, with over half his punts (52.7%) landing inside the 20-yard line in 2022 and 41.5% of his career punts pinning opponents deep in their own territory. The 2022 Ray Guy Award winner as the best punter in the nation should be the first punter selected.