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Stephen Gostkowski Deservedly Named Best Kicker in the NFL over Justin Tucker, Adam Vinatieri

The New England Patriots kicker was nominated by his peers as the best kicker in the NFL.

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN polled 24 kickers to hear their thoughts on which player is the best kicker in the NFL. New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski came in first place, ahead of Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker, and Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri.

As these ratings are based on recency bias, we just have to look over the past year or so to determine why these kickers came to this conclusion.

Since the start of the 2014 season, no kicker has more points than Gostkowski's 209. His 80 extra point attempts and conversions are the highest in the league, while his 43 made field goals are tied for the most with Tucker and Seattle Seahawks kicker Steven Hauschka (and Gostokowski only made 45 attempts, versus 49 for both Tucker and Hauschka).

He's the most accurate kicker and he does it outdoors. Unlike Vinatieri, who works in a dome, Gostkowski also handles his own kickoffs. There isn't any real reason why kickers wouldn't say Gostkowski was the best in the league.

In week 4, I highlighted how the NFL experienced the worst day of kicking the past decade. Using a similar model, I looked at all of the kicks (made and missed) since the start of the 2014 season to see if there was any question that Gostkowski is the best in the league. The model is purely based on distance and doesn't take domes or weather into account.

Turns out that Gostkowski comes in second place with 6.69 field goals above average (FGAA). Tucker comes in third with 5.24 FGAA, and Vinatieri comes in sixth with 3.91 FGAA. Who comes in first?

The Atlanta Falcons Matt Bryant with 7.10 FGAA. Bryant has the benefit of playing in a dome which has allowed him to have more kick attempts from deep. While Bryant has 10 field goal attempts from the 32-yard-line or worse (so roughly a 50-yarder or more), Gostkowski just has two such attempts. Since Bryant has more attempts and conversions, his FGAA is greater than Gostkowski's.

Here are the top and bottom 10 kickers since the start of 2014:

Rk Kicker FGAA
1 Matt Bryant 7.10
2 Stephen Gostkowski 6.69
3 Justin Tucker 5.24
4 Sebastian Janikowski 5.09
5 Josh Brown 4.24
6 Adam Vinatieri 3.91
7 Steven Hauschka 3.87
8 Chandler Catanzaro 3.60
9 Dan Bailey 3.52
10 Dan Carpenter 2.92
35 Jay Feely -1.26
36 Jason Myers -1.39
37 Blair Walsh -1.58
38 Billy Cundiff -1.95
39 Zach Hocker -2.03
40 Alex Henery -2.12
41 Josh Scobee -2.13
42 Nate Freese -2.67
43 Caleb Sturgis -2.94
44 Kyle Brindza -4.12