the study of all things kicker related

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bryan Anger and Drafting Specialists Early

Cal punter Bryan Anger was the first specialist selected in this year's NFL draft. It wasn't necessarily a surprise that he was the first, as he was highly rated in most rankings, however it did cause a stir among most fans and media when he went early - the seventh pick in the third round by Jacksonville. Then again many fans and media focus solely on offense and defense, and feel that special teams players should either be drafted late or never. 

Various parties commented on the selection, beginning with Bryan Anger himself:
"I felt kind of numb for a second. My heart started racing a little bit. It’s been a long process, but it is great to get some certainty in my life. I’m excited to be a Jaguar. I’ve heard plenty of good things about their organization.... I really had no clue what was going to happen. There were a handful of teams I thought it could be. I hit it off with the Jacksonville coach when he came out for the workout."
Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey:
"He can be a difference maker. Based on where you are in the draft and what's been taken in certain spots, we felt like this was a good pick for us.... If that one play is a punt that backs up a team inside the 20, maybe people don't know that and there can be a backlash, but that could be the difference in the game.... It's not that exciting, but there really is a difference when you come down to the meat and potatoes of the game."
Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe tweeted:
"Shane Lechler would like to remind you that punters can be worth drafting."
Calgary Stampeders kicker Rob Maver:
"Big fan of the move. Despite new rules minimizing the effect of special teams, it's great to see teams continue to place high value on players who can help them in this area!"
Nathan Chapman, Prokick Australia:
"If the kid is very good, why not use it on a punter, if a punter can change the field then doesn't that allow the offense to get aggressive and go for it without the fear of defending a short field. This is the start of many 3rd round pick ups I say."
Filip Filipovic, The Kicking Coach:
"If a kicker or a punter separates himself from the rest by having a very strong leg and a track record of several years of consistent performances in college, he is worthy of getting drafted in early rounds. Guys like Janikowski, Lechler, Maynard, etc. are a good example of guys who definitely deserved their high selections. Every once in a while, a specialist gets hot toward the end of his college career, and manages to have few great workouts right before the draft, and tricks teams into drafting him high. When in reality, he is a mediocre NFL specialist at best. Drafting a specialist in early rounds is no different than drafting any other position player. It carries a healthy signing bonus and high expectations to accompany it. Sometimes it works out for both player and the team. Other times it works out just for the player."
Chris Shaw, Kicknation:
"Punters are the most explosive game changers on Special Teams. If they are effective at putting the ball in the corners with consistency then its a worthwhile pick for a team. Congrats to the Cal Bears Punter."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Draft Preview: Derek Dimke

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Illinois' Derek Dimke. He ranks in the top five in many of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Dimke's profile page on the Fighting Illini's website:

2011 Senior Season
  • selected All-Big Ten Honorable Mention
  • Illinois career leader in field goal and extra point accuracy
  • Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week...Was a perfect 3-for-3 on his field goal attempts in Illinois’ three-point win over Western Michigan...Converted on attempts from 39, 35 and 21, with the final kick giving the Illini the game-winning points 
2010 Junior Season
  • Second-team All-Big Ten selection by coaches and honorable mention by media
  • Phil Steele's first-team All-Big Ten
  • Lou Groza Award semifinalist
  • Handled kickoff duties for the Illini for the third season, averaging 62.0 yards on 79 kickoffs, including 22 touchbacks
  • Went 3-for-3 in field goals and PATs in Texas Bowl win over Baylor, breaking the UI record for field goals made in a bowl game
  • Named a Lou Groza Award Star of the week after matching his career high with 15 points on six PATs and three field goals, all over 40 yards, at Michigan
  • Named Big Ten Co-Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 11 after becoming the first Illini in four years to hit four field goals in a game, which included his second 50-plus yarder of the season, in win at Penn State
  • Hit a career long 52-yard field goal against Missouri, which tied the sixth-longest FG in school history 
  • Academic All-Big Ten honoree
2009 Sophomore Season
  • took over place kicking duties late in the year
  • Handled kickoff duties all season, averaging 63.3 yards on 53 kickoffs, including 12 touchbacks
  • Took over full-time field goal and extra point duties prior to the Cincinnati game, hitting a perfect 3-of-3 in field goals with kicks of 30, 39 and 48 yards against the Bearcats to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors
  • Academic All-Big Ten honoree
2008 Freshman Season
  • Took over kickoff duties midway through the season, averaging 61.2 yards in the final six games of the season
High School
  • Rated as one of the top players in the state of Illinois and ranked nationally as the No. 13 placekicker by Scout.com
  • Holds the state playoff record with a 54-yard field goal
  • Earned second-team All-State honors by the Chicago Tribune and special mention by the Champaign News-Gazette

2011: 10 of 12 (83.3%) FGs; 34 of 34 PATs; 64 points
2010: 24 of 29 (82.8%) FGs; 43 of 43 PATs; 115 points
2009: 5 of 5 (100%) FGs; 12 of 12 PATs; 27 points

Prior to the Scouting Combine in February, Dimke discussed his NFL goals:
“My goal starting out wasn’t to use Illinois as a stepping stone to the next level. I was fortunate enough to get on the field. I’ve been surrounded by great role models and great people throughout high school and college....

I want to hopefully be given a chance on a team and make a positive impact on a team’s future. Not too many kickers get drafted. If that were to happen, that would be awesome. If it doesn’t, hopefully a team will give you an opportunity to go to training camp and have some preseason games....

I hope to show teams that I have the ability both mentally and physically to help their team next year. That will pretty much be taking up my time up until the draft and maybe even after the draft.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Draft Preview: Greg Zuerlein

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Missouri Western State's Greg Zuerlein. He ranks in the top ten in most of the various draft rankings, and as high as number one in some.

Excerpts from Zuerlein's profile page on the Griffons' website:

2011 Senior Season
  • first team AFCA All-America, Dakrtonics All-America and AP “Little” All-America selection
  • broke an NCAA and MIAA record with 21 consecutive field goals made, nine of them were from 50 or more yards
  • set an MWSU record, with 23 field goals in a regular seaso
  • broke a school record, with a 58-yard field goal against Northwest Missouri State twice
  • first team All-MIAA and Daktronics Super Region Four selections
  • MIAA Special Teams Player of the Year
  • named the D2Football.com Special Teams Player of the Week for his efforts in the Griffons 31-28 victory over Northwest Missouri State
2009 Junior Season
  • booted four field goals, including a 52-yarder against West Texas A&M in the Kanza Bowl.
  • named MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week on Oct. 5
  • selected to the All-MIAA first team as a placekicker
  • an AFCA Coaches’ All-America selection as a place kicker
  • D2football.com All-America second-team selection
  • had 30 touch backs on kickoffs, which led Division II for the second-straight season and was third overall in NCAA football
2008 Sophomore Season
  • all-MIAA first team selection
  • named UNO’s outstanding special teams player for the second consecutive season
2007 Freshman Season
  • all-North Central Conference first-team selection
  • team’s outstanding special teams player
High School
  • All-class, all-state selection as a placekicker as a junior and senior 
  • set state (Nebraska) mark for most field goals in a season with 12
  • converted 43 of 45 PATS and went 12-for-16 on FGs with a long of 52 yards
  • also lettered in soccer
  • 2005 Sports Illustrated preseason high school All-American

College Stats
2011: 23 of 24 (95.8%) FGs; 38 of 40 PATs; 107 points
2009: 17 of 23 (73.9%) FGs; 40 of 44 PATs; 91 points
2008: 9 of 11 (81.8%) FGs; 43 of 45 PATs; 70 points
2007: 10 of 15 (67.7%) FGs; 48 of 49 PATs; 78 points

At last month's Pro Day, Zuerlein discussed kicking and his future:
“Every player had their chance to perform, and I felt like today was a good day for me. This is for your future and something that you have looked forward to doing your whole life. It’s a little nerve-wracking, but it’s better to be in this situation and have the opportunity that I have instead of not....

“For me as a kicker, I don’t think it matters from Division I to Division II or NAIA for that matter. Kicking is kicking. The field goal posts are the same, and you aren’t going up against any harder competition. It’s you versus the goal post....

I don’t know if I will get drafted. If I do great, if not, hopefully I have an opportunity to kick at some point or at least be brought in a show what I can do.”

Monday, April 16, 2012

Draft Preview: Dave Teggart

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Connecticut's Dave Teggart. He ranks in the top ten in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Teggarts's profile page on the Huskies' website:

2011 Senior Season
  • selected All-Big East Conference First Team 
  • holds the UConn career records for field goals, extra points and points 
  • Scored 13 points, going 4-for-4 on field goal attempts with makes of 35, 45, 53 and 43 yards, in a 35-27 loss at Cincinnati
2010 Junior Season
  • Earned first team All-Big East honors
  • Had two game-winning field goals during the Huskies five-game winning streak to end the regular season...
  • Hit a 52-yard field goal in the final seconds of the USF (Dec. 4) game to give the Huskies a 16-13 win and the BCS appearance...The 52-yarder was a career long, which topped a 50-yarder he had earlier in the game...Kicked four field goals in the USF win...Was named the Big East Special Teams Player of the Week for his game vs. the Bulls
  • Hit a 27-yard field goal on the final play of overtime to lead UConn to a 16-13 win over West Virginia (Oct. 29)...Also earned Big East Special Team Player of the Week honors for that game as he had three field goals vs. the Mountaineers
2009 Sophomore Season
  • Delivered the game winning field goal on final play of the 2009 regular season with a 42-yard field goal against USF (Dec. 5) as time expired
  • hit a 44-yard field goal in the win vs. South Carolina (Jan. 2) which set a new Papajohns.com Bowl record
  • kicked a 29-yard field goal with 1:10 left in regulation against Notre Dame (Nov. 21) in a game that the Huskies eventually won
2008 Freshman Season
  • moved into the starting kicking role midway through the 2008 season and made his first 11 career field goal attempts - a first in school history
  • in his first career game against Cincinnati (10/25) was a perfect four of four in field goals
  • a two-time BIG EAST Special Team Player of the Week for his performances against the Bearcats and Syracuse (Nov. 15) - when he connected on three field goals
High School
  • Named to the 2006 Worcester Telegram & Gazette and MetroWest Daily News Super Teams
  • Twice named All-League
  • For his career was 18-for-24 on field goals with a long of 47 ... Hit 50 of 51 career extra point tries ... Averaged 41 yards for his 128 career punts with a long of 63
  • Played linebacker as well ... Also started at third base and hit .458 as Algonquin won the state baseball championship in 2006 and was runner-up in 2007... Baseball team captain as a senior

2011: 22 of 28 (78.6%) FGs; 29 of 30 PATs; 95 points
2010: 25 of 31 (80.6%) FGs; 36 of 36 PATs; 111 points
2009: 14 of 23 (60.9%) FGs; 47 of 47 PATs; 89 points
2008: 13 of 15 (86.7%) FGs; 16 of 16 PATs; 55 points

Prior to the Scouting Combine in February, Teggart discussed his limited experience on kickoffs during college:
"In college, no, but I went to that Little Rock, Ark., players' all-star classic and had some good kickoffs," Teggart said. "I mean, it's a matter of — I can't do anything about it now, so I move forward here and need to show them I can do it.... It's not enough for me to do it. I have to show somebody else. It's a show-me game, and as far as field goals, I think I'm as good as anybody. This year, 53 was my long – I was 4-for-4 from 50 this year. I had a 53 this year against Cincinnati and another against West Virginia this year....

I knew that going into it. It's a tough gig and it's not a lot of job security," he said. "But, hey, I chose this business, and if you get the right break, you perform and you get your shot. You take it. You've got to get in somewhere. It's a tough row to hoe, but it's always been my dream and I'm going to make it."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Draft Preview: Blair Walsh

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Georgia's Blair Walsh. He ranks in the top five in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Walsh's profile page on the Bulldogs' website:

2011 Senior Season
  • Set NCAA career record with at least one FG in 45 games.
  • Set UGA & SEC career record with 412 points scored
  • Selected to play in the East-West Shrine Game.
  • Against Kentucky, went 4-for-4 on FGs (39, 39, 25, 39), made a PAT and kicked off three times earning SEC Special Teams Player of the Week and CFPA National PK of the Week honors
  • At Vanderbilt, went 4-for-6 on FGs with made FGs from 53, 28, 36 and 44 yards; Also went 3-for-3 on PATs for a career-best 15-point game earning him Lou Groza Award National "Star of the Week" honors
  • Against Coastal Carolina, made a career-long 56-yard FG, converted 8-of-8 PATs and recovered a fumble on a kickoff
2010 Junior Season
  • Named a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award
  • Named All-SEC First Team by SEC Coaches and Second Team by Associated Press, Phil Steele and Rivals.com
  • Earned one of team's Most Valuable Special Teams Players award
  • Named CFPA Honorable Mention PK of the week following game vs. Idaho St. where he went 2-for-2 on FGs making from 38 yards before tying his career-long with a 53-yarder; Also kicked off eight times and made 6-of-6 PATs
  • Scored 13 points vs. Louisiana by making field goals from 52 an 48 yards and going 7-for-7 on PATs earning him CFPA Honorable Mention Place Kicker of the Week honors
2009 Sophomore Season
  • Named All-SEC Second Team by Associated Press, SEC Coaches and Phil Steele
  •  Was 1-of-3 finalists for the Lou Groza Award.
  • Named CollegeFootballPerformance.com Placekicker of the YearEarned one of team's Most Valuable Special Teams Player awards
  • Earned CollegeFootballPerformance.com Honorable Mention Kickoff Specialist Performer of the Week after making four kickoffs for 278 yards including three touchbacks; also hit a 49-yard FG and two PATs
  • Against Ariz. St., made two fourth quarter field goals, a 21-yarder and 37-yarder as time expired for the win
  • Earned CollegeFootballPerformance.com Honorable Mention Place Kicker Performer of the Week after he made field goals from 50-yards and 42-yards, went 5-for-5 on PATs and kicked off eight times for 539 yards (67.4 avg.) including two touchbacks vs. S. Carolina
2008 Freshman Season
  • Named Freshman All-SEC by SEC Coaches
  • Made Bulldog debut vs. Georgia Southern connecting for a 52-yard field goal on his first-career FG attempt, the longest first-field goal by a freshman since Hap Hines had a 54-yarder in 1996. Also made eight kickoffs for a 58.9 yard average including one touchback and a tackle
High School
  • USA Today All-USA First Team Offense
  • Scout.com four-star prospect, #1 PK in the nation
  • 2008 Rivals.com Kicker Rankings: strongest leg (4), most accurate (5), kickers (7)
  • ESPN.com No. 5 kicker in the nation
  • Class AAA 2007 Florida Sports Writers Association All-State second-team offense
  • 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl
  • as a senior, made 14 out of 20 field goals including two from 59 yards and 30 out of 31 extra points... averaged 41 yards per punt and 69 yards per kick-off

2011: 21 of 35 (60.0%) FGs; 46 of 46 PATs; 109 points
2010: 20 of 23 (87.0%) FGs; 46 of 47 PATs; 106 points
2009: 20 of 22 (90.9%) FGs; 42 of 42 PATs; 102 points
2008: 15 of 23 (65.2%) FGs; 50 of 50 PATs; 95 points

At Georgia's Pro Day last month, Walsh assessed his NFL prospects:
“I think I’ve done well enough in the postseason part of this and the process. I’ve kicked pretty well in the (NFL) combine and today. I’m hoping somebody takes a shot on me. I think my career speaks for itself, and obviously I didn’t have the year I wanted to have this year, and I’m just hoping a team takes a chance because I know I’ll be ready to work for them and be a contributing role....

It’s part of the game. If you’re not ready to commit to a couple years to it, then you’re really a one-and-done type," he said. "But I’m willing to commit years to it. I’m confident I’ll be able to crack into it, but it’s a tough business. I picked a job where there’s 32 jobs. So hopefully I’m one of them.”

Read more here: http://www.macon.com/2012/03/05/1932690/walsh-pushes-forward-says-of-senior.html#storylink=cpy

Monday, April 9, 2012

Kicking Opportunities

Last year David Akers headed to San Francisco via free agency, joining a 49ers team that in prior years had not generated very many kicking opportunities. But that was not the case in 2011, as they provided Akers with 34 extra point attempts and 52 field goal attempts - from which he generated an NFL record 166 points out of a possible 190. The highest possible kicking score in league history probably occurred in 1983. The Washington Redskins provided Mark Moseley with 63 extra point attempts and 47 field goal attempts. He converted for 161 points out of a possible 204.

Which NFL teams have provided their kicker with scoring opportunities in recent years? Following are the annual team ranking in kicking points attempted. Top five rankings are highlighted in yellow, and top ten in green.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Draft Preview: Philip Welch

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Wisconsin's Philip Welch. He ranks in the top five in many of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Welch's profile page on the Badgers' website:

2011 Senior Season
  • earned fourth letter
  • kicked in final 10 games after missing first four due to injury
  • made a 29-yard field goal and all five of his extra point attempts in the Rose Bowl vs. Oregon
  • named UW's co-special teams player of the week by matching career high with three touchbacks on kickoffs at Illinois
2010 Junior Season
  • owns Big Ten record with 67 extra points made in one season
  • 118 points is most ever by a UW kicker and fourth-best for one season at UW
  • went 2-3 on field goals in the Rose Bowl against TCU
  • 17 points against Indiana (two field goals and school-record 11 extra points) is most-ever by a UW kicker in one game
  • earned UW co-special teams player of the week honors after going two-for-two on field goals and three-for-three on extra points against San Jose State
2009 Sophomore Season
  • made both field goal tries and both extra point attempts against Miami in the Champs Sports Bowl
  • named UW's special teams player of the week after making good from 26 yards and on all four PAT tries against Indiana
  • named UW's special teams player of the week after going 1-for-1 on field goal attempts, 5-for-5 on PATs and making one tackle against Michigan State
  • made 2-of-3 field goals, including the game-winner in double overtime and a 57-yarder in the first half that was the longest in Camp Randall Stadium history and second-longest in school history, and went 4-for-4 on PATs to earn UW's co-special teams player of the week against Fresno State
2008 Freshman Season
  • Lou Groza award semifinalist
  • first-team Freshman All-American (Sporting News, CollegeFootballNews.com, Phil Steele, FWAA) 
  • hit two field goals (31, 41 yards) against Florida State in the 2008 Champs Sports Bowl ... 
  • named UW's co-special teams player of the week against Iowa ... connected on three FGs (42, 40, 35) at Iowa
  • made a career-high four field goals and hit a season-long 52-yarder at Michigan on Sept. 27 ... his four field goals tied a school-record for makes in a game and his 52-yard FG is tied for the fourth-longest in school history
  •  made his Badger debut as the team's starting kicker against Akron ... was a perfect 5-for-5 on PATs and hit his only field goal attempt (32-yds) ... UW's special teams player of the week against the Zips
High School
  • First-team EA Sports All-American and second-team All-American according to USA Today ... 15th-ranked kicker in the nation according to Scout.com
  • first-team all-state and all-conference selection
  • named team's special teams MVP in 2006 after making state-record 19 field goals ... scored state-record 106 points as senior in `06
  • career totals include 227 points scored, 35 field goals and 122 PATs
  • three-time football letter winner

2011: 5 of 6 (83.3%) FGs; 54 of 55 PATs; 69 points
2010: 17 of 22 (77.3%) FGs; 67 of 67 PATs; 118 points
2009: 17 of 24 (70.8%) FGs; 47 of 49 PATs; 98 points
2008: 20 of 24 (83.3%) FGs; 39 of 40 PATs; 99 points

Last October, Welch discussed the quad injury that delayed the start of his 2011 season and then his return to action against Nebraska:
"I knew about a month before camp [something was wrong]. I tried to not kick and rest it up, and then I ended up hurting it again. [The] main thing that works is just rest and not kicking. I knew that it was going to be bad [and] it was going to be a little bit till I got over it, so it's good that it's healed up, because I was getting a little bit worried there....
It was awesome. I would have been pretty mad if I missed probably the last night game in Camp Randall [for me]. I'm hoping to [resume handling kickoffs], but I'm not going to push it right away. I'm going to see how I feel after this game, because after each game it takes a few days to recover....
It'll be exciting. Field goals are fun - with PATs they're almost scary because they're really easy to hit."

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Draft Preview: Randy Bullock

Among the kickers eligible for this year's NFL draft, or signing as an undrafted free agent thereafter, is Texas A&M's Randy Bullock. He ranks in the top five in the majority of the various draft rankings.

Excerpts from Bullock's profile page on the Aggies' website:

2011 Senior Season
  • winner of Lou Groza Award
  • named to Walter Camp All-America squad
  • named to the All-America team selected by the American Football Coaches Association
  • became the Aggies all-time leading scorer
2010 Junior Season
  • the only Aggie to put points on the board with a trio of field goals in a 9-6 upset of Nebraska
  • following the win over the Cornhuskers, named National Placekicker of the Week by College Football Performance Awards Honorable Mention Kickoff Specialist of the Week by CFPA
  • selected Academic All-Big 12
2009 Sophomore Season
  • two of seven misses on the year were blocked
  • averaged 63 yards on kickoffs, producing nine touchbacks
2008 Freshman Season
  • earned the starting place kicking job halfway through the season
  • booted five of his 35 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks
High School
  • Garnered first-team All-District honors after connecting on 11-of-14 field goal attempts and was a perfect 39-for-39 on PATs
  • also earned All-Greater Houston and All-Texas accolades
  • booted a 54-yard field goal, which is believed to be the eighth-longest field goal in Texas high school football history
  • ranked one of the top five kickers in the nation by Rivals.com.

2011: 29 of 33 (87.9%) FGs; 55 of 57 PATs; 142 points
2010: 16 of 21 (76.2%) FGs; 50 of 50 PATs; 98 points
2009: 12 of 19 (63.2%) FGs; 51 of 51 PATs; 87 points
2008: 6 of 7 (85.7%) FGs; 20 of 21 PATs; 38 points

In February, Bullock discussed his thoughts on potentially getting drafted in light of Dan Bailey's success last year:
"I think that helps a lot. I think the more that happens, the more teams are going to be willing to take a look at a rookie....
It's different. That's just one of the things with the kicking position: Nothing is guaranteed. Some of the guys you're competing against can be 15 years older than you. That's when the business side of everything takes place, whether they want a big-name guy for a lot of money or take a gamble on a younger guy for less."