Welcome back to the NFL PRR! In this series, leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft, I will be ranking the top 12 players at each position for the previous season. This is not where I believe they will rank at the end of 2021, just where they stand now. Because of this, incoming rookies will be exempt from the "Following the 2020 Season" blogs. After the draft, leading up to the 2021 NFL season, I will be ranking where I believe each player will rank after the 2021 season, including incoming rookies.
These lists will be controversial, they will raise some eyebrows, but, most importantly, they will open some eyes towards who is actually dominating in the NFL today. Without further ado, here are my top 12 special teamers for the 2020 season:
Photo: Indianapolis Colts/Matt Bowen
12. Luke Rhodes
The best long snapper in the league kicks off this list. Even though there is no real metric for how good a long snapper is, the tape doesn't lie. His laser accuracy, freak athleticism to get downfield to play the ball or make a tackle, and his strength when blocking rushers is something the position has never seen before. There's a reason why he is the highest-paid snapper in the league, and he put that on display once again in 2020.
11. Rodrigo Blankenship
The second of three Colts on this list had a very impressive rookie season. He made 32 field goals, 5th most in the league, at an 86.5% field goal rate, 11th highest in the league among kickers with 20 attempts or more, while missing only 1 kick between the 30-39 yard line (12 for 13), and 2 kicks between the 40-49 (9 for 11). He also hit a game-winner against the Packers and went 43 for 45 on extra points. He has a bright future ahead of him and maybe the best kicker in 2020.
10. Corey Bojorquez
After a rough start to his career, Corey has solidified himself as the Buffalo Bill's secret weapon to pin teams deep in their own territory. He averaged 50.8 yards a punt, the most in the NFL, with 18 landings inside the 20, and a net total of 44 yards per punt (total punt yardage minus return yards). He was tied with Jack Fox and Kevin Huber for first in touchbacks with 7, although Fox had 59 punts and Huber had 71 punts. Corey didn't see as many punt attempts as other punters in the league, but he made the most of them on every single one.
9. Cairo Santos
Although he has been a journeyman throughout most of his NFL career, Cairo may have found his home in Chicago. Cairo had a 93.8% field goal rate, 6th among qualifying kickers while going 19 for 19 between 20-39 yards, and 2 for 3 on 50+ yarders. He went 36 for 37 on extra points, ranking 5th among qualifying kickers with a 97.3% make rate. He also hit 27 straight field goals to end the season, breaking Robbie Gould's franchise record from 2005. Although his stats don't seem too flashy, he filled a void that needed to be filled for the Bears, and it looks like he will stay there for years to come.
Photo: AP Photos/Kamil Krzaczynski
8. Cordarrelle Patterson
Another Bear makes the list, as well as being the only return specialist to do so. Cordarrelle has made a career off of his game-breaking return ability. He had the longest return of 2020 of 104 yards, the most yards with 1,017, and an average return rate of 29.7 yards, ranking 2nd among qualifying returners. Even though he never had a punt return, he ranked behind only Andre Roberts in total return yards (Roberts had 1,247 total return yards on 61 total returns). Cordarrelle gets the nod because teams feared kicking his way, and he scored a TD where Roberts did not. Cordarrelle should continue to be a threat to the Falcons in 2021.
7. Michael Dickson
The Aussie punter finds himself at number 7 based on a terrific 2020 campaign. On 61 punts, Dickson totaled 3,028 yards for 49.6 yards per punt, 2nd in the league. He also pinned 32 punts inside the 20-yard line, leading the league in this category. He had 6 touchbacks on the year and a net yardage of 44.4 yards per punt. He needed a bounce-back season after he saw his average yard per punt number drop by almost 4 yards. Expect the 24-year-old to dominate on special teams for years to come.
Photo: GettyImages/Otto Greule Jr.
6. George Odum
The only true special teamer to make the list was the First-Team All-Pro Special Teamer for 2020. This Colts weapon led the league in special teams tackles with 21. He also forced a fumble and pinned a few punts down as well. He played on most special teams plays and made a big impact you won't find on a stat sheet.
5. Jack Fox
Jack Fox has an incredible leg. On 59 punts, the Lions punter tallied 2,897 yards, averaging 49.1 yards per punt, 3rd best in the league, with a 44.8 net yard average, 2nd best in the league. He also had 7 touchbacks and had 26 punts inside the 20. So how can I put him above Dickson? He forced 15 fair catches and had the 4th lowest average return yards against him with 5.5 yards per return. This is a testament to the insane hang time he produces on each punt and how he lets his guys get down to cover the ball.
4. Jason Myers
Myers was the most efficient kicker in 2020. He was perfect on field goals, going 24 for 24, with 13 of them coming between the 40-49 yard line. He also had the longest kick off 2020 with a 61 yarder. He did go 49 for 53 on extra points, but his consistency when needing 3 points was unmatched across the league.
Photo: USA Today/Gary A. Vasquez
3. Younghoe Koo
The trickshot kicker made a name for himself in 2020. He made the most field goals in the league with 37, while only missing 2, as well as going 8 for 8 on 50+ yarders. He had the 3rd highest field goal percentage among qualifying kickers and went 33 for 36 on extra points. His accuracy and clutch kicking was key to the Falcons this past season, and he looks to become the best kicker in the league in 2021.
2. Jake Bailey
Jake was easily the best punter of 2020. On 55 punts, Bailey totaled 2,678 yards, giving him 48.7 yards per punt on average, 4th most in the league. He had the most net yards per punt in the league with 45.6 yards, and he had the 2nd most punts inside the 20 with 31. 18 of his punts were fair caught and he had only 5 touchbacks. He had one of the best hangtime averages in the NFL and put the Patriots defense in a great position on almost every punt he had.
Photo: AP Photos/Kyusung Gong
1. Jason Sanders
The best specialist of 2020 was none other than Jason Sanders. He made the 2nd most field goals with 36, he went 12 for 14 from 40-49 yards, he made all 36 extra-point attempts and hit 3 field goals that gave the Dolphins the lead for the remainder of the game. Take those 3 kicks away, the Dolphins sit at 7-9. His range, clutch ability, and consistency on PATs should not be overlooked, and are the main reasons why he earned the top specialist spot for 2020.
Photo: AP Photos/Ric Tapia
There were a lot of names that are highly regarded throughout the NFL that didn't make this list, such as Justin Tucker, Johnny Hekker, Brandon McManus, Mason Crosby, and Tress Way. All are well deserving to make the cut, but could not outperform the names that are listed above. These 5 may all be bound for the Hall of Fame at the end of their careers, but couldn't produce enough in 2020.
Join me next time as I cover the top 25 players of the 2020 season!