Ranking the NFL's best kickers, and choosing a No. 1

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The best kicker in the NFL

NFL Insider Mike Sando joins NFL Nation TV to talk about the Nation's kicker rankings and how kickers are doing with the longer extra point attempts.

Strictly by the numbers, Matt Prater, Matt Bryant, Dan Bailey, Justin Tucker and Steven Hauschka would be the NFL's five best current field-goal kickers based on performance since 2013. If you go back a little further in the numbers, Bryant, Josh Brown and Tucker lead a tightly bunched top 10 since 2014. Robbie Gould and Stephen Hauschka stand well above the rest if we're looking only at the first four weeks of this season.

How do I know? Look, I never thought I'd spend 30 hours of an NFL Week 5 calibrating 32,000 rows of field-goal data provided by ESPN's Production Analytics team, but now that I've done the work, it might be time to pitch a Kicking Tiers project to go along with my annual Quarterback Tiers survey (just kidding, or maybe not).

Of course, ranking the NFL's kickers solely on field-goal percentage will get you laughed out of the special-teams meeting room. And when we asked NFL kickers this week to rank their peers, the results looked a LOT different than what you see above. If you're going to rank field-goal kickers, you'd better account for key variables. Longer kicks are tougher in outdoor stadiums. The shortest kicks have achieved near-gimme status, making them notable when missed. While there's added pressure kicking in close games, there's little variance in performance from kicker to kicker in those situations.

With kickers facing additional scrutiny now that extra-point tries are longer, this is a good time to take stock of where field-goal kickers stand. I've got full rankings below, followed by my choice for the guy I'd trust the most.

So, who is the best kicker in the game?