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Best kicker in NFL history: Justin Tucker tops the all-time greats

Picking out the best kicker in NFL history isn’t easy. Some look at field goal percentage. Others attempt to convey their opinion by checking in on the clutch gene.

Either way, it’s been an interesting debate dating back to the good old days when some quarterbacks moonlighted as placekickers around the NFL. Below, we provide you with our top-10 kickers in NFL history.

Related: Longest field goals in NFL history

10. Jason Elam (1993-2009)

best kickers in the nfl; jason elam
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  • Teams: Denver Broncos, Atlanta Falcons
  • Jason Elam stats: 80.7% FG, 99.4% PAT

Back in 1998 with the Broncos, Elam broke the record for the longest field goal in NFL history by nailing a 63 yarder. While that was his claim to fame, the three-time Pro Bowler was among the best in the business during his 17-year career. This includes the Hawaii product being ranked eighth in league history in points scored (1,983). Sure playing in the Mile High City impacted his performance, but this dude was absolutely legit.

9. Lou Groza (1946-1967)

best kicker nfl history: lou groza
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  • Teams: Cleveland Browns
  • Lou Groza stats: 54.9% FG, 97.2% PAT

There’s a reason why the Lou Groza Award for the best kicker in college football exists. Dating back to his time at Ohio State, Groza was the face of kicking. He left professional football holding pretty much every kicking record in the books. That includes the longest made field goal, most attempts, most conversions, and most points.

In fact, he helped turn this position into a specialty before calling it quits following the 1967 season. In all, Groza helped Cleveland to four NFL championships, earned nine Pro Bowl honors, and was actually voted as the NFL’s MVP back in 1954. Imagine that in today’s football world. A kicker-winning MVP.

Related: Longest careers in NFL history

8. Matt Prater (2006-)

best kicker nfl history: matt prater
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  • Teams: Detroit Lions, Atlanta Falcons, Denver Broncos, Arizona Cardinals
  • Matt Prater stats: 83% FG, 95.9% PAT

Like Elam, Prater was aided by the fact that he played seven NFL seasons in Denver. In fact, he bested his counterpart’s record with a 64-yard field goal as a member of the Broncos back in 2013. That season also saw him connect on an absurd 96.2% of his field-goal attempts.

Still, in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals, Prater is going strong. Back in September of last season, he connected on a 62-yard field goal in a win over the Minnesota Vikings.

7. Jason Hanson (1992-2012)

best kicker in nfl: jason hanson
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  • Teams: Detroit Lions
  • Jason Hanson stats: 82.4% FG, 98.8% PAT

Sure Hanson wasn’t the face of the Lions at any point during his tenure. That distinction went to either Barry Sanders or Calvin Johnson. Even then, his 21-year run in Motown represents one of the greatest accomplishments in franchise history.

We’re talking about a two-time Pro Bowler who connected on the north of 85% of his field goals a whopping eight times during his career. He also ranks fourth all-time in points with 2,150. Not too shabby for a kicker who existed on a dormant team for the vast majority of his career.

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6. George Blanda (1949-1975)

best nfl kickers all-time: george blanda
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  • Teams: Chicago Bears, Baltimore Colts, Houston Oilers, Oakland Raiders
  • George Blanda stats: 52.4% FG, 98.3% PAT

Longevity wasn’t Blanda’s only asset. Sure he played in the professional football world for 27 years. However, his claim to fame was about a lot more than that. Even after Groza helped turn kicking into a specialist, Blanda found a way to do that while throwing 236 touchdowns as a quarterback.

Blanda led the NFL in field-goal conversions three times while topping all other kickers in field goal percentage another three times. When he finally called it quits following 1975, Blanda had scored the most points in league history. He still owns the individual record for both extra points made (943) and attempted (959).

5. Gary Anderson (1982-2004)

best nfl kickers all-time: gary anderson
  • Teams: Pittsburgh Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Vikings, Tennessee Titans
  • Gary Anderson stats: 80.1% FG, 99.2% PAT

Minnesota Vikings fans will remember Anderson the most for missing an all-important field goal in the 1998 NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons. Most in Minneapolis blame Anderson for the loss after he went the entire regular season without missing a kick.

One play can’t define a players’ career. This South Africa native finished his career ranked third in NFL history in games played (353), points scored (2,434) and field goals made (538). He also remains the Pittsburgh Steelers’ all-time leading scorer with 1,343 points.

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4. Jan Stenerud (1967-1985)

top nfl kickers all-time
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  • Teams: Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings
  • Jan Stenerud stats: 66.8% FG, 96.5% PAT

Stenerud’s career was filled with firsts. He became the first Norwegian-born NFL player once the AFL and NFL merged back in 1966. Stenerud then finished his career with a bust in Canton, becoming the first kicker to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1991.

There’s a good reason for this. We’re talking about a man that redefined the kicker position in the league. He earned four first-time All-Pro honors and was a six-time Pro Bowl performer. Known for having a booming leg, Stenerud led the NFL in field goal percentage four times, kicked the longest field goal in a season another four times, and ended up connecting on 97% of his extra-point attempts.

3. Morten Anderson (1982-2004)

best nfl kickers: morten anderson
Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports Copyright Matt Stamey
  • Teams: New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, Kansas City Chiefs, Minnesota Vikings
  • Morten Anderson stats: 79.7% FG, 98.8% PAT

The all-time leader in points scored before Adam Vinatieri broke it late in his career, Anderson was the face of NFL kickers for multiple generations of fans. A career that lasted nearly a quarter-century included the Copenhagen native earning seven Pro Bowl appearances.

He was also a member of the 1980s and 1990s NFL Hall of Fame teams and became the fourth kicker ever inducted into Canton.

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2. Adam Vinatieri (1996-2019)

Syndication: Indianapolis
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  • Teams: New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts
  • Adam Vinatieri stats: 83.8% FG, 97.3% PAT

Sure to get his bust in Canton at some point soon, Vinatieri will become only the third exclusive kicker to earn Hall of Fame honors behind Morten Anderson and Stenerud. There’s obviously a good reason for this.

A four-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, Vinatieri is considered the most clutch kicker in league history. That includes him nailing the game-winning kicks in both Super Bowl XXXVI and XXXVIII. From an individual perspective, the South Dakota State product ranked No. 1 among NFL kickers in points (2,673), field goals made (599), postseason points (238), and overtime field goal conversions (12). That’s just insane.

1. Justin Tucker (2012-) — best kicker in NFL history

best nfl kicker: justin tucker
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  • Teams: Baltimore Ravens
  • Justin Tucker stats: 91.1% FG, 99% PAT

How could we have anyone ahead of Vinatieri on our list of the best kicker in NFL history? Well, there are 91.1 reasons for that. This is Tucker’s conversion rate on kicks since entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent back in 2012. That represents the highest mark in the history of the league.

A total of seven times in his first 10 seasons with the Ravens, Tucker hit north of 90% of his field goals. He’s also connected on 72% of his attempts from 50-plus yards and holds the NFL record for the longest field goal in NFL history at 66 yards — a feat Tucker accomplished on a game-winning kick against the Detroit Lions during the 2021 season. All of this, and he’s only been in the league for a decade!

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