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The Kicking Crown 2023: Defining the NFL’s Most Accurate Kickers

An annual article series covering the best NFL Kickers

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Originally, I had an exciting preamble about preparing for the 2023 season in my introduction. But I missed the deadline as I caught a rather nasty case of COVID. So, instead, we’re one week into the NFL season and this will have to do. Cheers.

I’ve always had disdain for “the NFL’s most accurate kicker” title.

Not because it isn’t true, but because it’s such a catch-all term for field goal kickers. There’s a significant difference from being a marksman vs. being a chip-shot specialist. After all, when you think of accurate NBA shooters you think of Stephen Curry and Ray Allen, not the NBA’s all-time leaders in field goal percentage DeAndre Jordan (.6750) or Rudy Gobert (.6540). Because of this, I began breaking down NFL kicking back in 2018.

Over the past five years I’ve collected data on the top 10 kickers of their respective year (beside 2022 due to my own schedule and negligence) and compared one another with those of history. Entering the 2023 season, the top 10 kickers in NFL history are:

  1. Justin Tucker
  2. Younghoe Koo
  3. Daniel Carlson
  4. Harrison Butker
  5. Matt Gay
  6. Josh Lambo
  7. Mike Vanderjagt
  8. Robbie Gould
  9. Kai Forbath
  10. Stephen Gostkowski

I have updated stats for kickers who were previously in the Top 10 who fell out over the past few years, including:

  • Chris Boswell – No. 11
  • Jason Myers – No. 13
  • Dan Bailey – No. 14
  • Wil Lutz – No. 22

Also, two kickers who help give a bit of a measuring stick.

  • Adam Vinatieri – 31
  • Greg Zuerlein – No. 46

Vinatieri’s 21 seasons of kicking show the growth of kicking over two decades. What’s expected now of a kicker vs. what it was 20+ years ago. Zuerlein was a kicker known for being trotted out for 50+ yard attempts, and what a large sample size of distance kicking can reveal.

First, let’s go over the year-to-year changes. How the kickers placed following the end of the 2022 season vs. the season before.

2022 vs. 2021 Kicker Rankings, Changes

End of 2022 Rank End of 2021 Rank Delta Player End of 2022 FG% End of 2021 Delta
End of 2022 Rank End of 2021 Rank Delta Player End of 2022 FG% End of 2021 Delta
1 1 -- Justin Tucker 90.524 91.061 -0.537
2 3 Up 1 Younghoe Koo 89.051 90 -0.949
3 5 Down 2 Daniel Carlson 88.272 87.2 1.072
4 2 Down 2 Harrison Butker 88.172 90.123 -1.951
5 UR -- Matt Gay 87.826 -- N/A
6 6 -- Josh Lambo 87.075 87.025 0.05
7 9 Down 2 Mike Vanderjagt 86.466 86.466 --
8 7 Down 1 Robbie Gould 86.46 86.598 -0.138
9 10 Up 1 Kai Forbath 86.364 86.364 --
10 11 Down 1 Stephen Gostkowski 86.344 86.344 --
11 4 Down 7 Chris Boswell 86.325 88.35 -2.025
13 18 Up 5 Jason Myers 85.903 84.737 1.166
14 13 Down 1 Dan Bailey 85.862 85.862 --
22 8 Down 14 Wil Lutz 84.615 86.585 -1.97
31 28 Down 3 Adam Vinatieri 83.776 83.776 --
46 42 Down 4 Greg Zuerlein 82.123 82.243 -0.12


Tucker remained the undisputed champion of all-time field goal accuracy, being 1.473% above Koo at No. 2; even after falling a half-percentage due to attempting 14 kicks greater than 50-yards, with

Koo is in that early sweet spot of sample size and has (mostly) made the best of it. With 137 attempts the sample size still gets a nice jolt on a completion. But, it also plummets with a miss, which was felt by Koo who missed five last season which plummeted him nearly a full percentage point.

Carlson had one hell of a season in 2022. He missed only three kicks, with one of them being a block. He was called on to kick 13 attempts from 50+ and hit all but two, with one being the block. Increasing your all-time accuracy by a full point isn’t easy. But a combination of still being under 200 career attempts and being nearly 92% accurate will do that.

Butker looked to fly too close to the sun in 2022. After finishing as the second-most accurate kicker in football, Butker fell by two percentage points due to going 75% last season. Partially because he attempted only 24 kicks and missed six of them. Four misses were from 50+, while he also missed from 39 and 47. Missing under 40 is a rarity from Butker (and most top-tier kickers), where Butker has gone 100/103. This was by far Butker’s worst season, but it’s a hefty anomaly. His prior worst season he finished at 88.9%. I’m expecting him to see a big bounce back.

Everybody welcome Gay to the kicking party. We’ll see if he can last. It’s good to see players cross the threshold into 100 attempts and be ranked but so few remain past the 150-200 kick mark in the top 10. Give credit where it’s due though as the only misses Gay had in 2022 were from 61 and 51.

Gould enters Year 19 ready to keep course. He’s been a staple of The Kicking Crown as a representative of consistency.

This series originally started due to Boswell signing a long-term deal with the Steelers in 2018 and being on his way to becoming the most accurate kicker in NFL history. Though he never found the No. 1 spot, he’s consistently remained in the Top 10… until the end of 2022. The bane of his 2022 season was 40-49-yard field goals where he went 5/10, an area he was hitting 81.333% prior. However, he went 7/9 from 50+ and missed only one kick inside of 40-yard all season. But a 71.4% overall season in 2022 drug his accuracy down 2%. Of course, Boswell is one kick from being back in the top 10. Yes, if he hits his next kick he’ll be at 86.383%, above Gostkowski and Forbath.

Metrics Charted

Average Attempted Distance (AAD): Where each kicker is attempting from on average. From their first kick to their most recent, this shows their average attempted range.

Average Completion Distance (ACD): Where each kicker is completing kicks from on average. Their attempted range vs. completion range is different. This shows where, on average, they’re consistent from.

Average Miss Distance w/o blocks (AMD): Faulting kickers for missed kicks does not make sense to me. Most often times it is not their fault. The blocking, snap and hold are more significantly the issue than the kick. So, I removed them all. It doesn’t tend to impact this chart much, but I think it’s more representative of where they’re and I’m the one making the chart.

Attempts Breakdown — Are there statistical anomalies in any kickers’ attempts? Are they kicking from great distances or shorter range?

Average Attempted Distance (AAD)

Average Attempted Distance (AAD)

All-time Rank Player Average Attempted Distance (yards)
All-time Rank Player Average Attempted Distance (yards)
1 Justin Tucker 39.2
2 Younghoe Koo 38.3
3 Daniel Carlson 37.6
4 Harrison Butker 37.9
5 Matt Gay 38.9
6 Josh Lambo 38.1
7 Mike Vanderjagt 35.8
8 Robbie Gould 37
9 Kai Forbath 37.4
10 Stephen Gostkowski 36.2
11 Chris Boswell 38.3
13 Jason Myers 39.1
14 Dan Bailey 38.1
22 Wil Lutz 38.3
31 Adam Vinatieri 36.4
46 Greg Zuerlein 39.9
Kyle Barber


  • Two years ago, Zuerlein was at 39.7 AAD. Now, he’s at 39.9 AAD. I’m blown away. I can’t believe he’s still increasing in this category. I’m left wondering just how accurate he’d be if he wasn’t called on to blast from 40+ on nearly every kick.
  • It’s a testament to Tucker that the only player who averages further distances than him is a player 45 spots and 8.4% less accurate. On average, Tucker has the second-furthest kicks (among the list, I’d be curious if the true history) and yet he’s the most accurate. You’d think a player who snuck by on chip shots could poach the accuracy out from under him.
  • Credit Myers and Gay who are both on this list by way of averaging right near 39 AAD. For Gay, it’s a bit of sample size but Myers has consistently been a player who kicks from distance. He was at 39.5 AAD two years ago.
  • Koo being the second most accurate but still in that top five area is good news. Though, it’s where the first drop off is exposed.
  • Both Butker and Carlson, Nos. 4 and 3 all time, respectively, benefit from shorter kicks. Not wildly, as it’s only a 1.3-1.5 yards difference, but they’re not having so many troublesome shots. Not to say they can’t kick from great distances, only that they aren’t on average kicking from 38+ AAD.
  • A player who did benefit from chip shots was Gostkowski, who managed to be even lower than Vinatieri. I’d argue this is mostly due to being on a New England Patriots team that got him closer kicks. That’s not his fault, he can only attempt the shots he’s given, but his accuracy benefited from him being at closer ranges.

Average Completion Distance

Average Completion Distance (ACD)

All-time Rank Player Average Completion Distance (ACD)
All-time Rank Player Average Completion Distance (ACD)
1 Justin Tucker 39.2
2 Younghoe Koo 37.2
3 Daniel Carlson 36.6
4 Harrison Butker 36.6
5 Matt Gay 37.7
6 Josh Lambo 37
7 Mike Vanderjagt 34.3
8 Robbie Gould 35.8
9 Kai Forbath 36.2
10 Stephen Gostkowski 35
11 Chris Boswell 37.3
13 Jason Myers 37.9
14 Dan Bailey 36.7
22 Wil Lutz 36.8
31 Adam Vinatieri 35
46 Greg Zuerlein 37.9
Kyle Barber


  • When a field goal is under 40 yards and you see Tucker trot onto the field, abandon all hope. It’s come as an expectation that Tucker can hit anything, and while that’s mostly true, it’s certifiable from under 40 yards.
  • As I pointed out, Myers is a kicker that’s showing no fear and battling to get into the Top 10. But note that he’s in second place and it’s 1.3 AAD shorter than Tucker, and it only gets lower from there.
  • This is always one of the revealers of where those in the Top 5 are hiding in the broadness of “all-time accuracy.” They may be the second-most accurate, but where are they hitting their kicks from? For Koo, that’s two ACD under Tucker. For Carlson and Butker, they’re 2.6 ACD shorter. Which is why I give Gay credit for being in the Top 5 and doing so within a respectable distance from the No. 1.
  • This is also a good indicator that Boswell isn’t just a chip shot specialist. Early in his career he benefited from a small sample size from distance. But he takes a hefty amount from 40-49-yards. In his eight years with the Steelers, he’s only ever kicked fewer than 10 40-49-yard attempts once (2020).
  • As I’ve pointed out, Gostkowski can only kick the ones he’s given, but his accuracy shows he didn’t gain his average much when given opportunity. Obviously, when 65.8% of all his career kicks were inside of 40 yards, it’s hard to have a higher average. Goes to show that Patriots offense from 2006-2018 never needed him to let if fly from 50+ with great frequency. As I noted with Boswell, Gostkowski is quite different. He has fewer than 10 attempts from 40-49 in six of his 15 NFL seasons.

Average Miss Distance

Average Miss Distance (AMD)

All-time Rank Player Average Miss Distance w/o Blocks
All-time Rank Player Average Miss Distance w/o Blocks
1 Justin Tucker 51.6
2 Younghoe Koo 45.8
3 Daniel Carlson 44.5
4 Harrison Butker 47.1
5 Matt Gay 46.3
6 Josh Lambo 48.5
7 Mike Vanderjagt 45.6
8 Robbie Gould 45.1
9 Kai Forbath 45.7
10 Stephen Gostkowski 43.9
11 Chris Boswell 45
13 Jason Myers 45.7
14 Dan Bailey 46.9
22 Wil Lutz 47.7
31 Adam Vinatieri 43.2
46 Greg Zuerlein 49.3
Kyle Barber


This is why when Tucker trots onto the field to attempt a 50-yard field goal opposing coaches know what’s about to happen. The top end of Tucker’s range (not the furthest distance) appears to be 51.6 yards. Any further is where Tucker’s accuracy wanes.

As I’ve pointed out, Zuerlein has been overwhelmingly used for distance kicking. He’s the only one within range of Tucker’s miss distance and it’s still under 50 yards. Yeah, notice that? Tucker’s the only one above 50, and he’s nearly two yards above it, too.

Looking at Lutz, a player who was a Top 5 kicker for a couple seasons, he’s not one to shy from distance. Maybe being in the altitude of Denver with the Broncos will bring even greater benefit of his kicking.

Taking a more macro perspective, it’s wild to see the evolution of kickers. You can tell the past was more within the 40-45-yard range whereas now the NFL is steadily climbing to 48 yards and in hopes of achieving 50 yards.

Attempts Breakdown



Seven kickers have not attempted a field goal under 19 yards. So, they’re all missing the Dark blue at the bottom. But seven have and that shows the purest layup kicks possible.


Daniel Carlson has enjoyed the most chip shots of any kicker on this list. He leads the group in kicks from 20-29 yards. If we’re including all kicks under 30 yards, he is narrowly in third place behind Vanderjagt and Vinatieri, which isn’t a great place to be because they were from the previous generation of kickers that weren’t asked as much. Carlson’s an exceptional kicker but he’s been given some great benefits in this category.

Give a lot of credit here to Zuerlein, Lambo, Myers and Gay who have under 20% of their career attempts from 30+. They don’t have the nice 24% of their career attempts from under 30 like the rest of the kickers.


Lambo leads this unit with a heavy 34.7%. It’s clear as to why he has an extra few percent here compared to the rest. He was consistently getting 30–35-yard field goals, instead of getting the kicks inside the 30. Nearly 23% of his 30–39-yard kicks were inside of 35. So, had his offenses gotten just a few more yards this would be significantly lower and the 19.7% from 20-29 would be higher. Just a fun note.

This was clearly where the Patriots offense would stall, if they stalled. Gostkowski is second here.


Taking it to the starting point, the kickers that have the fewest career attempts under 40 are Myers (47.3%), Lutz (49.4%) and Justin Tucker (51.1%). Half of all these players’ kicks are from 40 yards or greater.

The inverse of this is Gostkowski (61%), Vinatieri (59.9%) and Vanderjagt (58.9%). I loved watching Gostkowski kick but it’s clear he got quite the accuracy benefit from where his attempts were. Imagine Tucker having another 10% of his career attempts from inside 40 yards where he’s gone 100% inside of 30 and is 97.2% accurate from 30-39 yards. He could be creeping to 95% all-time.


Boswell isn’t a long-distance kicker but he sure is a mid-distance guy. He leads the pack with 37.4% of total kicks being between the 40’s. You’d like him to be a bit more accurate (77%) but he is kicking half of all games at Heinz field which isn’t an easy task.


Zuerlein leads all kickers at 22.4%. Then, it’s Gay and Tucker at 20%. That’s right, one in every five kicks from Zuerlein, Gay and Tucker are from 50 yards or more. And even when you’re good at it like Zuerlein, it’s hard to remain in the top 10. This helps to highlight the pure insanity that Tucker has managed to remain the No. 1 most accurate kicker and he’s doing so from insane distances and at a volume (nearly) nobody else is doing.

Like I said, Boswell is not a long-distance guy. He boasts the lowest attempts from 50+ at 7.2%. The Steelers and Boswell know his range and they’re understanding when it’s time to punt over try a kick out of his range.


Top 10 Kickers with more than 1% of kicks from 60+: Justin Tucker. It’s not normal to have a guy be this accurate or have such range, and yet he’s both. He has 2.2% of his attempts from such range.

Only two others have more than 1% but aren’t top 10 kickers. There’s Zuerlein at 2.5% because hey, bring out Legatron. And there’s Wil Lutz, the Tucker protégé who now finds himself in Denver. Maybe he gets a crack at some real distance kicks in the altitude.

Overall Analysis

We Are Watching the Greatest of All Time

Justin Tucker is the best damn kicker in football history and it’s not particularly close. The catch-all “most accurate field goal kicker” doesn’t show the gap of what Tucker’s doing on a football field vs. all the rest of kickers in history.

He’s more accurate than anybody ever and is doing so from ranges further than everybody else. He’s doing so not in a dome or at altitude. He’s doing it in the kicking nightmare of the AFC North and knocking through more than 90% of his career attempts.

Watch Kickers!

No more audibly groaning when Scott Hanson on Red Zone shows the video of a field goal. There’s a chance you see Koo continue to hang onto No. 2 or watch a players miss sail them out of the Top 5 or Top 10. Being among the best and most accurate kickers takes a lot of completions to make up for a single miss. So, when you see Gay or Butker line up for a field goal, know the points and the game aren’t the lone shot on the line, it’s these guys’ career defining numbers being judged.