Ewing: Punting On Kickers
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PredictionMachine.com Analytics Coordinator, John Ewing, picks up where Matt and Paul left off with the NFL Draft: kickers...
"Everything but kickers and punters... no one really cares about that anyways." –PredictionMachine.com's own Jimmy Shapiro in reference to our NFL draft content on a recent Podcast.
Well Jimmy, I respectfully disagree - and so do many NFL teams. Since 2000, NFL teams have drafted 25 kickers with the average pick coming in the 5th round. Why would teams spend valuable picks on kickers? Because every year kickers end up playing a crucial role in the most important games and, unfortunately, the results are not always positive. In the 2012 AFC Championship, Baltimore kicker Billy Cundiff missed a 32 yard field goal which would have sent the Ravens @ Patriot's game into OT. In the 2010 AFC Divisional playoffs, San Diego kicker Nate Kaeding missed three field goals and a crucial 40 yarder in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter in the Chargers' 17-14 loss. In the 2005 AFC Divisional playoffs, Doug Brien missed two potential game-winning field goals for the Jets with fewer than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, allowing the Steelers to win in OT. These types of high-profile misses keep the kicker merry-go-round moving and open up new spots for college kickers to be drafted.
When drafting a kicker, we are looking for two things: number of field goals made and accuracy. Similar to Matt Richner's philosophy with quarterbacks in which he wants QBs with a lot of wins and a high completion percentage, I want a kicker with a large number of field goals made and a high field goal percentage. The magic numbers I have uncovered: 60+ field goals made with 80% accuracy. If an NFL team is able to draft a kicker that meets these requirements, it can expect to capture value for the pick.
A kicker has been drafted in nine out of the last ten years. While none of the kickers in this year's draft class meets the 60/80 rule, the following have a chance to hear their names called next week.
Randy Bullock, Texas A&M: 63 Field Goals Made, 78.75% Accuracy
Dave Teggart, Connecticut: 74 Field Goals Made, 76.28% Accuracy
Jason Cunningham, Montana St: 69 Field Goals Made, 75.82% Accuracy
Philip Welch, Wisconsin: 59 Field Goals Made, 77.63% Accuracy
Blair Walsh, Georgia: 76 Field Goals Made, 74.78 Accuracy
Kevin Goessling, Fresno St: 61 Field Goals Made, 75.31% Accuracy
Grant Ressel, Missouri: 52 Field Goals Made, 83.87% Accuracy