Punters aren't the most appreciated players in the NFL, but there's a scarcity of stars at the position who can consistently stick and do the singular, high-pressure job they're tasked with on the gridiron.
EA Sports' Madden 16 revealed its top five punters on Sunday. Leading the way is Indianapolis Colts first-team All-Pro Pat McAfee, whose prowess makes life difficult for adversaries who already have to deal with stud quarterback Andrew Luck and Indy's explosive passing game.
Below is a list of the top five punters and the notable attributes that make them elite in the eyes of Madden creators:
|Rank||Player||Team||Overall Rating||Notable Attributes|
|1||Pat McAfee||Indianapolis Colts||95||97 Kick Power, 92 Kick Accuracy, 88 Awareness|
|2||Johnny Hekker||St. Louis Rams||93||97 Kick Power, 97 Kick Accuracy, 79 Awareness|
|3||Matt Bosher||Atlanta Falcons||92||92 Kick Power, 97 Kick Accuracy, 83 Awareness|
|4||Thomas Morstead||New Orleans Saints||91||95 Kick Power, 91 Kick Accuracy, 86 Awareness|
|5||Sam Martin||Detroit Lions||91||96 Kick Power, 95 Kick Accuracy, 80 Awareness|
McAfee's booming kickoffs also ensure the Colts' foes start drives on their own 20 more often than not. His knack for touchbacks justifies the high rating for kick power in Madden 16.
On Saturday, McAfee spoke about his outlook for 2015.
"I looked in the mirror and said, 'Probably not a lot of punts for you this year, buddy,'" said McAfee about the Colts offense, per theIndianapolis Star's Stephen Holder.
The Indianapolis Star's Zak Keefer alluded to how the team's aerial attack could improve even more this year with a revamped receiving corps:
Next up in the rankings is St. Louis Rams standout Johnny Hekker. He joined St. Louis the same year kicker Greg "Legatron" Zuerlein arrived, and the two have formed a phenomenal pair for a team still seeking to break through to the playoffs under coach Jeff Fisher.
With Hekker continuing to pin opponents deep and Zuerleinmanufacturing points with long field goals most kickers can't convert, it's on Nick Foles to give the Rams stability under center to take that next step.
At the dawn of training camp, Hekker has his sights set on an ambitious goal for the coming season:
Hekker has proved capable of helping out with his arm on special teams trick plays in the past, hence his 64 throwing power and 65 short throwing accuracy in Madden 16.
Checking in at No. 3 in Madden 16 is Atlanta Falcons punter MattBosher. Only Hekker matches the 97 kick accuracy Bosher boasts, and such precision is particularly useful when trying to finagle a punt inside the 20.
Bosher is in line for another big year in 2015—and may not be leaned on quite as heavily. The Falcons have a new coach in Dan Quinn whose experience in Seattle figures to upgrade the defense. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has a zone-blocking scheme capable of fixing Atlanta's rushing woes too.
Rounding out the list are two other NFC punters in Thomas Morsteadof the New Orleans Saints and Sam Martin, the Detroit Lions' 2013 fifth-round pick.
Morstead's job is made easier thanks to a Saints offense that led the NFL in total yards in 2014. Martin helps position the elite Lions defense for success, though Detroit has to prove it can sustain its previous form without superstar defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.