Sunday, July 22, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Jay Feely on Bucs' Aguayo: No kicker worth high draft pick

TAMPA — He neither shanked his response with diplomacy nor muffed it with double talk.

When Jay Feely was asked Tuesday about the prudence of drafting a kicker early, the former NFL journeyman, who kicked for seven teams over parts of 14 seasons, opted for a straight-ahead style.

"I would never draft a kicker in the first three rounds," the Jesuit High alumnus, who was not drafted coming out of Michigan, said on the Arizona-based Burns & Gambo sports radio show.

"I think very highly of the position and the importance of the position, but the difference (between) an average kicker and the best kicker in the NFL is probably about 15 points in a season. You can go and you can find kickers that are very good, very talented, as free agents."

Like many in his former line of work, Feely is being summoned to assess the nationally scrutinized kicking woes of Roberto Aguayo, the Bucs' second-round draft choice who has struggled mightily in his first two preseason games.

Aguayo's first professional extra point, two weeks ago in Philadelphia, clanged off an upright. On Saturday in Jacksonville, he missed field goals of 32 and 49 yards. In Tuesday's joint practice with the Browns, he missed three more field goals, eliciting a collection of boos, jeers and gasps from fans in attendance.

The Bucs and Browns had no team kicking session Wednesday.

During his radio spot Tuesday, Feely, 40, began by indicating he didn't think Aguayo — 14-for-22 from field goals of 40 or more yards in his last two years at FSU — was even the best kicker in the 2016 draft. Feely was partial to Duke's Ross Martin, who went undrafted.

"(Aguayo) had a great freshman year and they won a national championship, but he never really failed," Feely said. "And not that that's a bad thing, but you have to be able to handle failure as an NFL kicker, which he never really has done. And now he's getting a really quick taste of that and he's struggling with it."

Feely pointed out a not-so-subtle rules variation that could be affecting Aguayo: While NFL kickers essentially are using new balls each game, that's not always the case in college.

The latest NCAA Rules and Interpretations manual (Rule 1, Section 3, Article 2d) reads: "During the entire game, either team may use a new or nearly new ball of its choice when it is in possession, providing the ball meets the required specifications and has been measured and tested according to rule."

"If you have a college team that lets you do it, there's no college rule against it, you can keep the same ball for four years and have that ball brought in for kicking plays," Feely said.

But the main difference, he said, is pressure and focus.

"I'm sure that what's happened to him is more nerves than anything else," said Feely's dad, Tom, who runs a local kicking academy, feelykicking.com, and watched four of his six sons kick in college.

"I've only seen him kick on TV, but I don't think it's an issue of technique at all. I think it's just a matter of finding his confidence level and getting to the point where he can relax. You've got to learn to have fun."

Because many are going to have fun with you.

Feely was the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit after missing three field goals for the Giants in a 2005 loss to Seattle. Two weeks later, he went 4-for-4 including a winning 36-yarder in overtime at Philadelphia. During a timeout just before the winning kick, the SNL skit was shown on the Lincoln Financial Field's JumboTron.

"That Seattle game was the turning point in his career," Tom Feely said, "because after that he realized, 'There can't be anything worse that could happen to me than that, and I survived that.' "

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