Sunday, December 17, 2017
Sports

Bucs' pick of FSU kicker Aguayo was not a draft-day blunder

NFL draft grades are in and Tampa Bay can apparently forget about applying to Harvard. That's because the Bucs drafted the best player at his position in college history.

Normally, that might be considered a shrewd pick. But Roberto Aguayo's position is kicker, and the unwritten NFL rule is you never take a kicker if a one-armed receiver from Bemidji State is still on the draft board.

"Dumbest pick in the history of the NFL draft," one general manager told Bleacher Report.

Dumber than Ryan Leaf or Lawrence Phillips?

Dumber than the Falcons trying to draft John Wayne in the 17th round of the 1972 draft? Yes, that John Wayne.

The reaction illustrates one of the most socially acceptable cases of class prejudice in America — Kicker Bias.

Did you know Jan Stenerud is the only pure kicker in the Hall of Fame? The bias has its roots in the fact most kickers look like substitute math teachers who can't even spell P.E.D.

"I wanted to be an NFL quarterback," Michael Husted said, "but I could kick the ball very far. So I found a way to get into the NFL."

He played for nine seasons, including six with the Bucs, and now runs a kicking school near San Diego. Kickers didn't invent the rules that give them such an out-sized role in America's favorite sport.

And it's sure not their fault that most 6-foot-5 linebackers can't kick a ball into the Pacific Ocean.

Yet the little guys have as much influence on the outcome of a game despite playing maybe 10 snaps.

That influence is growing. Last season, 59 games were decided by three or fewer points.

A struggling kicker can ruin everything. The Steelers went through four of them last season. Jacksonville's Jason Myer missed seven extra points.

That's seven more than Aguayo missed in his FSU career. No, the ball wasn't snapped from the 15-yard-line. But the NFL's new rule only increases his value.

Kickers missed 71 extra points last season, the most since 1979. Aguayo never missed a kick inside the 40 in college.

Overall, he made 69 of 78 field-goal attempts.

"Your money kicks, 45 yards and in, he definitely proved he can make those," Husted said.

Another thing that has kicker stock soaring is a touchback rule that starts next season. If a kick isn't returned, the ball will be placed on the 25-yard line instead of the 20. You're going to see more teams try to kick the ball near the end zone and toward a sideline.

Aguayo can use his leg like Phil Mickelson uses a 9-iron. He has six different kickoff techniques, each relying on the four-second hang time NFL teams covet.

Granted, history is not on Aguayo's side. Since 1999, eight of the 12 kickers drafted before the sixth round did not last more than four seasons with their original teams.

But at least 66 percent of everybody taken before the sixth round never make it. The difference is nobody gets apoplectic when receivers, guards and cornerbacks wash up. And they think good kickers can be found by placing a want ad in Craigslist.

Husted said in truth there are only a handful of "plug and play" guys out there. The Bucs know them well.

They signed Connor Barth a couple of times. Last year he came in to replace Kyle Brindza, who'd missed five of six field goals.

If you can fix that position for 10 years, isn't it worth a second-round pick?

"I wish him all the luck," Husted said.

If Aguayo gets a little of that, some general manager may have just uttered the dumbest comment in the history of the draft.

— Orlando Sentinel (TNS)

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