Sunday, July 15, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs trade up to take FSU kicker Robert Aguayo

TAMPA — After being praised for landing their top target while adding a fourth-round pick Thursday, the Bucs are prepared for the jokes that will follow Friday's questionable trade.

Tampa Bay used that extra pick to move up 15 spots and select Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo in the second round (No. 59 overall).

"We know it's going to be criticized," coach Dirk Koetter said.

But if it pays off, the Bucs will bring the most accurate kicker in college football history into a league where special teams are becoming more important.

As the NFL struggled with longer extra points last year, Aguayo never missed a kick inside 40 yards with the Seminoles. The 2013 Lou Groza Award winner had the leg strength to rack up touchbacks but FSU preferred him to kick off high, as NFL teams are expected to do after offseason rule changes pushed touchbacks up to the 25-yard line.

With Aguayo, FSU ranked seventh nationally in opponents' starting field position, according to Football Outsiders.

While the rule changes increased Aguayo's value, Bucs general manager Jason Licht said Aguayo's talent was a bigger factor in making him the first kicker chosen in the second round since 2005.

"When you've got a chance to get the best kicker in the history of college football, I didn't want to risk it," Licht said. "I wanted to take him."

All he had to do was send the No. 106 overall pick (obtained Thursday from the Bears) and his third-round pick (No. 74) to the Chiefs.

Talks between the Bucs and Aguayo's camp began in early January, when Tampa Bay's staff had an informal chat with Billy Miller — a former Bucs assistant who was prepping Aguayo for the draft at Bradenton's IMG Academy.

"I always speak highly of him," Miller said Friday night. "It's easy to do when he's the best college kicker in the nation."

Aguayo has other ties to the Bucs, too; he won a national championship and set the NCAA single-season scoring record for a kicker in 2013 on an FSU team quarterbacked by Jameis Winston.

"Oh my gosh," Aguayo said. "Honestly, it was where I wanted to go."

The Bucs targeted Aguayo as a possible third-round pick after attending his pro day at FSU but decided not to risk losing an automatic talent with a potentially long career; the past three kickers drafted inside the top 60 have averaged 16 years in the league and counting.

"If you love a player," Licht said, "you have to go up and get him."

Regardless of the criticism that follows.

Contact Matt Baker at [email protected]. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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