Saints rankings: No. 15 P Thomas Morstead

I’m ranking the top 20 New Orleans Saints players leading up to training camp. It’s based on their current value -- meaning both past accomplishments and potential are taken into account. Think, who would you want on the field most in Week 1 this season?

At No. 15, it’s punter Thomas Morstead.

Profile: Year 6, Age 28, 6-foot-4, 235 pounds

Analysis: Too high for a punter? Hardly. In fact, I always wonder if I’m short-changing Morstead on these lists by not ranking him even higher. A Pro Bowler in 2012, Morstead is one of the few players on the Saints’ roster that can be considered among the NFL’s elite at his position.

Morstead didn’t return to the Pro Bowl last year, but he still finished third in the NFL in net punting average (42.3 yards per kick). That’s the most important stat for any punter, and in 2012 Morstead flirted with the NFL record in that category. Instead, he finished at 43.2 yards, which ranks fifth in league history.

Morstead’s strong leg is also an outstanding asset on kickoffs, where he had 52 touchbacks last season (tied for fourth in the NFL). He used to hold the NFL record in that category, as well, with 68 touchbacks in 2011. But Denver’s Matt Prater shattered that mark with 81 of them last season.

Previous rankings:

No. 20 (tie) RBs Mark Ingram/Khiry Robinson

No. 19 WR Kenny Stills

No. 18 S Rafael Bush

No. 17 LB David Hawthorne

No. 16 CB Champ Bailey