ESPN 150 ranking: 116
Grade A: Nick Novak proved himself last season, finishing the regular season tied for second in the NFL in made field goals. His 35 made field goals were a career high and a single-season record for the franchise. Since joining the Houston Texans in 2015, Novak has made 47 of his 50 field goal attempts inside of 50 yards.
What it means: Because of the Texans’ struggles on offense, especially in the red zone, Novak was very important, and the team probably wouldn’t have made the playoffs last season without his success. By bringing Novak back, the Texans will give themselves some consistency at kicker. Since the start of the 2013 season, Novak has made 87.1 percent of his kicks. Since joining the Texans, he has yet to miss a kick inside of 40 yards. Among kickers, he was as sure of a thing as was available to Houston this offseason. The Texans do have one other kicker on the roster — Ka’imi Fairbairn, who lost the training-camp kicking battle with Novak and was placed on injured reserve with a quad injury in late August.
What’s the risk: The 2016 season was Novak’s best since 2013, the season before he was cut by the San Diego Chargers. Novak, 35, has played on five NFL teams in his nine-year NFL career. He did finish tied for 12th in the NFL last season in field goal percentage and tied for 15th in 2015. In 2014, his final season in San Diego, Novak was tied for 17th. Over the past three seasons, Novak hasn’t been an elite kicker percentage-wise, so the Texans are settling for a fairly reliable kicker.