Offense and defense dominate the NFL these days. The guys who don’t get much recognition are the special teamer’s. Kickoff return men are some of the fastest and best visioned athletes on the field. With the NFL changing around special teams rules more and more, players continue to work around these rules and provide some huge value to their respective teams as kick returners. Here are the Top Kick-off Returners in the NFL today.
Top Kick Returners in NFL
10 – Alex Erickson
Erickson’s only impact this season came as the Bengals return man. He was fifth best in the league with an average of 27.9 yards/return. The undrafted rookie out of Wisconsin has shown that he can be an impactful return man.
9 – Dwayne Harris
Dwayne Harris was given a decent-sized contract by the Giants just as a special teamer. He not only served as an outstanding return man, averaging 24.5 yards/return, but he has also made a phenomenal gunner. Harris has always been a great special teams man. Over his six year career, he averages 26.4 yards/return.
8 – Devin Hester
Hester spent most of the season with the Baltimore Ravens, before being cut. He was picked up by the Seattle Seahawks to add a threat to their return game this postseason. He averaged a mark of 27.2 yards per return this past season. Over his career, he averages 25 yards/return, and has 5 kickoff returns for a touchdown. Hester is just a pure speed athlete. Since he has come into the league he has been one of the best returners in the game.
7 Marquise Lee
Lee is an elusive return man for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Lee averaged 30.3 yards/return, which was good enough to be the third best average in the league. His biggest splash came when he returned a kickoff 100 yards to the house for a touchdown. Lee, a former sprinter and long jumper at USC, has some terrific acceleration, some incredible vision, and can work his way through traffic.
6 – Darren Sproles
Sproles is a small, shifty, speedy running back. His first six seasons in the league, he recorded over 1,000 return yards. As he has entered the twilight of his career, he has continually fewer returns each season. Regardless, Sproles still is one of the smallest, quickest, shiftiest return men in the league.
5 – Kenyan Drake
The rookie out of Alabama was a huge addition to the Dolphins return game. He finished his rookie season second in the league in yards/return, averaging 31.1 yards. His biggest splash in the return game came against the rival Jets when he had a game winning 96-yard return for a touchdown. Drake was an explosive return man at Alabama, and should continue to make his presence felt in the return game for a long time.
4 – Tyler Lockett
Lockett was one of the best returners in the league his rookie season. In 2016, his presence continued to give the Seahawks an explosive threat in the return game. He averaged 25.3 yards/return this past season.
3 – Jalen Richard
The undrafted rookie has been a huge part of why Oakland’s special teams unit was the fourth best unit in the league. He averages 23.2 yards/return. His excellent vision as a runner makes him a phenomenal return man.
2 – Tyreke Hill
Hill, a fifth round pick this year, has been an outstanding pickup for the Chiefs. His pure speed is an outstanding asset for Kansas City. He has shown the ability to start the Chiefs off in excellent field position, as he averages 27.4 yards/return. His longest return was a 86-yard return for a touchdown. Hill’s speed should make him one of the top special teamers in the league for a long time.
1 – Cordarrelle Patterson
Patterson has been one of the top kickoff return men in the league for a long time. He is a pure speed guy. This past season he averaged a league best 31.7 yards/return. Over his four-year career, he averages 30.4 yards/return, and has five returns for a touchdown.
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