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Top 10 Kick Returners in NFL 2023 Rankings

Keisean Nixon leads the way as we rank the Top 10 NFL Kick Returners going into the 2023 NFL season. Also where Nyheim Hines, and more rank

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By admin | May 16, 2024

The game of football is built around explosive plays on both the offensive and defensive side of the football as well as within the special teams. One of those explosive plays that ranks among the best plays to take place during a football game is a big kick off return or a kickoff return for a touchdown.

In addition to being explosive, a big kick return has the potential to swing the momentum of the football game and set up field position for a team.

As you look around the National Football League the kick returners landing on the Top 10 NFL Kick Returners 2023 Rankings list each have the ability to make a big play on any kickoff.

Landing atop the Top 10 NFL Kick Returners 2023 Rankings list are the Green Bay Packers cornerback Keisean Nixon and Buffalo Bills running back Nyheim Hines.

Nixon is coming off leading the NFL in total kick returns after finishing the 2022 NFL season with 1,009 kick return yards.

Hines returned two kickoffs for a touchdown while leading all NFL returners while four other returners posted one kickoff return touchdown.

Joining those two on the list as the best kick returners in the NFL includes Cordarrelle Patterson of the Atlanta Falcons, Devin Duvernay of the Baltimore Ravens, and Kene Nwangwu of the Minnesota Vikings. Here is a look at the Top 10 NFL Kick Returners 2023 Rankings list.

Honorable Mention

Isiah Pacheco

Team: Kansas City Chiefs

Position: Running Back
2022 Stats: 597 Yards, 48 Long, 20.6 Yards Per Return, 0 TD

Landing just outside of the Top 10 NFL Kick Returners 2023 Rankings list is the Kansas City Chiefs second year running back and kick returner Isiah Pacheco.

Pacheco is an explosive running back with game breaking speed and physical skills to make a big play happen on any play including during any kickoff return.

The Chiefs second year star from the Rutgers Scarlet Knights posted a solid rookie season as a running back as well as a returner finishing with the 11th most kick return yards (597) on 29 kick returns including a season long 48 return.

Marcus Jones

Team: New England Patriots

Position: Cornerback
2022 Stats: 645 Yards, 46 Long, 23.9 Yards Per Return, 0 TD

The New England Patriots cornerback lands among the top kick returners in the NFL while also landing as the NFL top punt returner.

The second-year cornerback who played his college football with the Houston Cougars is coming off a combined 1,007 return yards during the 2022 NFL season including 645 kickoff return yards over 27 kick returns.

Among those returns included a season-long 46-yard kick return while averaging 23.9 yards per kick return. The 23.9 average per return landed him 9th among all kick returners with at least 20 returns. Jones is a playmaker in the special teams making him a valuable commodity to the Patriots organization.

Top 10 NFL Kick Returners

10. Raheem Blackshear

Team: Carolina Panthers

Position: Running Back
2022 Stats: 513 Yards, 66 Long, 27.0 Yards Per Return, 0 TD

Coming in at number 10 on the Top 10 NFL Kick Returners 2023 Rankings list is the former Virginia Tech Hokies running back Raheem Blackshear.

Blackshear who played a limited role in the Carolina Panthers offensive attack handed a large role of the kick returning responsibilities during his rookie season.

Over 13 games last season, the Panthers running back, and returner averaged 27 yards per return on 19 total returns including a season long 66-yard return. His 27 yards per return ranked 6th among all returners who posted at least 10 kickoff returns. 

9. Velus Jones Jr.

Team: Chicago Bears

Position: Wide Receiver
2022 Stats: 607 Yards, 63 Long, 27.6 Yards Per Return, 0 TD

Special teams is a key component of any football team and Velus Jones Jr of the Chicago Bears ranks among one of the top kick returners in the NFL.

As Jones Jr heads into his second season with the Bears after being drafted during the 3rd round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the former Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver has the speed and physical abilities to rank among the best kick returners in the NFL.

While he was limited to just seven catches last season, Jones was solid in the return game posting 607 yards on 22 returns last season while averaging 27.6 yards per kickoff return.

8. Justin Jackson

Team: Detroit Lions

Position: Running Back
2022 Stats: 613 Yards, 42 Long, 26.7 Yards Per Return, 0 TD

After spending his first four seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers, Justin Jackson landed on with the Detroit Lions during the 2022 NFL Season. 

While spending most time as a primary special teams player, the former Chargers and current Lions kick returner finished the season with the 6th most kick return yards (613) while averaging 26.7 yards per kick return over 23 total kick return attempts.

Jackson set career highs in yards, yards per return, and total returns after handing returns in only one prior season (2019).

7. Jerome Ford

Team: Cleveland Browns

Position: Running Back
2022 Stats: 723 Yards, 48 Long, 24.1 Yards Per Return, 0 TD

Blocked by the big-time running backs featured within the Cleveland Browns organization, Jerome Ford used his speed and physical tools to excel on the special teams side of the game. The former Cincinnati Bearcats running back shined as the team’s primary kick returner during the 2022 NFL Season.

As the 2023 NFL season is just around the corner expectations are set high for Ford who has all the physical tools to continue his success in the kick return game after finishing the 2022 NFL season ranked 3rd in the NFL with 723 total kick return yards on 30 attempts.

6. Dallis Flowers

Team: Indianapolis Colts

Position: Cornerback
2022 Stats: 715 Yards, 89 Long, 31.1 Yards Per Return, 0 TD

Another role player who saw limited action on the field but shined on special teams is the Indianapolis Colts rookie cornerback Dallis Flowers.

While Flowers played on the defensive side of the field at times, he was a key contributor on the Colts special teams including finishing the season ranked 4th in total kick return yards after posting 715 total yards on 23 total returns.

When it comes to big time playmaking abilities Flowers was one of two kick returners who averaged over 30 yards per return joining Cordarrelle Patterson to accomplish the feat. Flowers finished the season averaging 31.1 yards per return including one 89-yard kick return during the season.

5. Devin Duvernay

Team: Baltimore Ravens

Position: Wide Receiver
2022 Stats: 383 Yards, 103 Long, 25.5 Yards Per Return, 1 TD

Rounding out the Top 5 kick returners landing on the Top 10 NFL Kick Returners 2023 Rankings list is the Baltimore Ravens kick returner and wide receiver.

The fourth-year returner and wide receiver from the Texas Longhorns is coming off his second straight season being selected as a return specialist for the NFL Pro Bowl.

After posting a combined 1,036 return yards during the 2021 NFL season Duvernay earned a selection as First-Team All-Pro as a returner.

The Ravens returner is an x-factor in the return game with the ability to take one to the end zone on any kick after posting a 103-yard return during the 2022 NFL season.

4. Kene Nwangwu

Team: Minnesota Vikings

Position: Running Back
2022 Stats: 920 Yards, 97 Long, 26.3 Yards Per Return, 1 TD

Over the past two seasons the Minnesota Vikings Kene Nwangwu has ranked among the best kick returners in the NFL while returning a combined three kicks for touchdowns over that stretch.

The Vikings running back who is expected to take a larger role within the teams running game during the 2023 NFL season will also see his speed and skills put to good use as he looks to jump to the tops of the kick returner list

 Nwangwu is coming off a season in which he returned 35 total kick returns for 920 yards and one 97-yard kick return touchdown. Over the years the Vikings have had some top tier kick returners and that trend continues with Nwangwu.

3. Cordarrelle Patterson

Team: Atlanta Falcons

Position: Running Back
2022 Stats: 284 Yards, 103 Long, 31.6 Yards Per Return, 1 TD

Cordarrelle Patterson of the Atlanta Falcons could easily slide in at number one among the best kick returners in the NFL. However, his total usage on special teams continues to be limited; it has hurt his overall kick return yard statistics.

Nonetheless Patterson showcased his big play potential and speed last season in the return game posting one 103 kick return for a touchdown while also averaging 31.6 yards per kick return on nine total kickoffs. As the 2023 NFL season approaches, Patterson should continue to see kickoff return duties in a limited role.

2. Nyheim Hines

Team: Buffalo Bills

Position: Running Back
2022 Stats: 554 Yards, 101 Long, 29.2 Yards Per Return, 2 TD

As far as the top two kick returners in the NFL landing on the Top Kickoff Returner list, both are well deserving of the top spot. However only one player could take that honor with Nyheim Hines landing at number two.

The current Buffalo Bills running back showcased his ability to turn the momentum of a game in a blink of a switch posting two kickoff return touchdowns last season including a 101-yard return.

On 19 returns, Hines averaged 29.2 yards per kick return while finishing the season with 554 total return yards. As Hines looks to take the field for the Bills for his first full season with the team in 2023, expectations are set high for the team as well as Hines within the Bills special teams unit.

1. Keisean Nixon

Team: Green Bay Packers

Position: Cornerback
2022 Stats: 1009 Yards, 105 Long, 28.8 Yards Per Return, 1 TD

In at number one on the Top 10 NFL Kick Returners 2023 Rankings list is the Green Bay Packers cornerback Keisean Nixon. Nixon, who led the NFL with 1,009 kick return yards last season will look to continue that success during the 2023 NFL Schedule.

The 25-year-old former cornerback and special teams star for the South Carolina Gamecocks took home his first First-Team All-Pro selection last season as a return specialist after leading the NFL in return yards.

Nixon showcased his speed and physical tools as he posted 35 returns over the course of the season while posting an NFL long 105-yard kick return for a touchdown.

As Nixon continues to play a reserve role on the defensive side of the football, his ability to make a big play on special teams lands him as the top returner in the NFL.

How would you rank these kick returners going into the 2023-2024 NFL season? Rank below to be added in the NFL Power Rankings.

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Players Count 10
  1. Ray-Ray McCloud

    Kick Returners
  2. DeeJay Dallas

    Kick Returners
  3. Devin Duvernay

    Kick Returners
  4. Khalil Herbert

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  5. Andre Roberts

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  6. Braxton Berrios

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  7. DeAndre Carter

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  8. Tremon Smith

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  9. Jamal Agnew

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  10. Godwin Igwebuike

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