Fall is in full swing across North America. The CFL regular season is coming to an end and the playoffs will be upon us in just four weeks. It’s time to start singling out the players who have been the best at their positions in 2015. The Last Word on Sports CFL department takes a look at the best players in 2015, position by position. Today, we discuss who was the CFL’s best kicker.
CFL’s Best Kicker in 2015
The kicker is one of the most underrated positions in all of sports. Fans tend to think that because the kicker is only used for extra points and field goals, he is not very important to the team. Football is a team sport and every position is worthy, including the kickers. How many times has the kicker been scrutinized for a loss? How about bathed in glory after a win?
The kicker can make or break a game and eight games have been decided by the kicker on a game-winning field goal this season. Week 15 saw a classic battle between Sean Whyte of Edmonton and Lirim Hajrullahu of Winnipeg. The latter missed four out of his five field goal attempts before he gave his team the lead late in the fourth, only to lose to Whyte and the Eskimos off of a final-play field goal.
With so many kickers switching jobs throughout the course of the season, it’s hard to pinpoint a candidate for the best kicker out of each team. And what about punters? Do they make the list? For our sake, no, but if a kicker doubles as a punter, he has an advantage over his counterparts in this title race. Who knew naming the CFL’s best kicker in 2015 would be so complicated?
Nine Teams, Nine Candidates
- Boris Bede, Montreal Alouettes
- Lirim Hajrullahu, Winnipeg Blue Bombers
- Richie Leone, B.C. Lions
- Paul McCallum, Saskatchewan Roughriders
- Justin Medlock, Hamilton Tiger-Cats
- Chris Milo, Ottawa Redblacks
- Justin Palardy, Toronto Argonauts
- Rene Parades. Calgary Stampeders
- Sean Whyte, Edmonton Eskimos
Having to cut down the list to four candidates was tough. Whyte, Palardy and Hajrullahu are all exempt from the final list considering that they are out of a job or are replacing an injured player. Who makes the final cut? Drum roll please…
Bede, Medlock, Milo and Parades make the list!
Medlock undoubtedly has the best leg in the CFL. Is he the best kicker? We will see. The only non-CIS product in the final four, Medlock is leading the league in points produced with a whopping 147. The is largely due to his team’s high-octane offence, allowing him to score 45 extra points on 47 attempts. The next closest kicker to earn that many PATs is Leone, with 31. Going 33/37 on field goals has slotted him right behind Bede in terms of accuracy. Medlock has also matched his career-long this season with a 57-yard boot in week 15 against Calgary.
Luckily for Medlock and the Ti-Cats, Medlock has not been needed to produce a game-winning FG this year, as the team’s nine wins have all been by a greater margins than three points. However, Medlock is still an instrumental piece to his team and without him, Hamilton might not be sitting on top of the East right now.
The rookie out of the University of Laval has been an absolute monster for the Alouettes this season. He is leading the league in field-goal percentage for kickers with more than 20 kicks, going 32/35 on the season. Two of his misses have came from 54 and 58 yards out, with a 52-yard field goal as his season-long. He only misses when he can’t kick the required length. He’s that good. His only downfall is his extra point attempts, as he’s gone 16-for-21 from 32 yards. If he tunes his mental game to nail those one-pointers, Bede will be the most dominant kicker in the league.
Bede, who has produced 118 of his teams 280 total points scored, is the only candidate of the four to control punting duties. On 88 punts, Bede has averaged a distance of 44.6 yards, with a long of 69 yards, which is good enough for fifth in the league for punters with more than 30 punts. His punting is also very accurate, with only five singles scored.
After a poor season in 2014, Parades has come storming back onto the kicking scene in 2015. His 73.3 FG% last year has been pumped up almost 15%, to 88.1%. He is leading the league in field goals made and is currently tied with Sean Whyte for game-winners. Paredes kicked his team to a victory in a dramatic Grey Cup re-match in week one and repeated his heroics against the same Hamilton team two weeks ago.
The 30-year-old Concordia product has been weak on extra points, making only 20 of 24 but the Stampeders will take his clutch kicking over a few missed single-pointers any day. It’s hard not to cheer for a guy like Paredes- his enthusiasm and celebrations are always great to watch.
Released by the Roughriders early in the season, Milo was unemployed for over a month before landing a job with the Redblacks. After making his debut for Ottawa in week seven, Milo has been kicking aces in the Nation’s Capital. He has made 25/29 field goal attempts and is 28-for-30 on extra points- the second least missed PATs in the league behind Medlock. His 71.4% FG% in 2014 has drastically improved to 86.2% in 2015, putting him on pace for the second-best efficiency in his career.
Milo kicked a game-winning FG a month ago against his former team and has been instrumental in the Redblacks late-season push for the division title. After winning a Grey Cup in 2013, Milo will look to lead Ottawa to the holy grail this year with his powerful leg.
Honourable Mention: Dave Stala. Why? Just because. When a veteran receiver can double as a kicker for two extra points this season, he deserves to be on this list.
The CFL’s best kicker in 2015 is… Boris Bede! The rookie just narrowly edges out Medlock for the title, largely due to his punting abilities. Bede can do anything with his leg and he has been the best player on the Alouettes this year. Bede has a long career ahead of him and he is only getting started.