With many NFL teams experiencing kicking woes last season, and veterans phased out of the picture, several teams might draft a kicker in one of the later rounds. This year’s deep crop of kickers in the 2020 NFL Draft include Lou Groza winner Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia), German-born Dominik Eberle (Utah State), Jet Toner (Stanford), Tyler Bass (Georgia Southern), and Tucker McCann (Missouri).
Other kickers that just missed the “top-5 kickers” list include Ricky Aguayo (Florida State), JJ Molson (UCLA), Jace Christmann (Mississippi State), and Cooper Rothe (Wyoming).
The New England Patriots parted ways with veteran kicker Stephen Gostowksi at the end of last season. Bill Belichick isn’t dumb enough to waste an early pick on the kicker, like that time the Oakland Raiders selected a kicker in the first round. He picked Gostowski with a fourth-round pick in 2006 to replace Adam Vinatieri. So, who will Belichick pick to replace Gostowksi?
2020 NFL Draft Top 5 Kickers
Rodrigo Blankenship (Georgia)
Dominik Eberle (Utah State)
Jet Toner (Stanford)
Tyler Bass (Georgia Southern)
Tucker McCann (Missouri)
According to ESPN, only 40% of kickers drafted play three or more seasons with the team that picked them. That’s why many teams don’t bother to draft a kicker or waste a valuable pick unless they’re already well-stocked. It’s easier and cheaper to invite a prospect to training camp, or gamble on a veteran kicker that’s ready to turn their luck around. Kickers are expendable and shuffle through teams faster than you think. Reliable kickers stick around for multiple seasons. Bad ones are quickly shown the front door.
In case you were wondering, Justin Tucker went undrafted. Yes, the best kicker in the NFL over the past few years signed a free-agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012.
From Germany to the NFL: Dominik Eberle
Get familiar with Dominik Eberle. The Utah State kicker might become the NFL’s next great kicking star.
The soccer player from Germany who enjoys American football pivoted to kicking. He went to high school in Redondo Beach, California before he joined Utah State as a walk on. After a strong freshman season, Eberle earned a well-deserved football scholarship.
In his stunning career, Eberle connected on 86.4% of his field-goal attempts and didn’t miss an extra point with a 100% clip. Eberle once scored 24 points in a game. He knocked down four, 50-plus-yard FGs in his career with Utah State, including three in one game. He also drilled a walk-off game-winner that people still talk about to this day at Utah State.
Eberle will go down as Utah State’s greatest kicker after setting seven Mountain West conference records. He’s also a Lou Groza finalist for the top kicker in America.
The Best of the Best: Hot Rod
Georgia kicker Rodrigo “Hot Rod” Blankenship won the Lou Groza award for top placekicker in college football. He’s got the inside track to become the first kicker selected in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Blankenship, who grew up and played high school football in Athens, Georgia, became a star kicker and the leading scorer in Georgia’s history. He connected on 27-for-33 field goals last season, and went 3-for-5 from 50-plus yards.
At Georgia Southern, Tyler Bass missed only one extra point in 109 attempts over his last three seasons for a 99.1% clip. Bass finished his career with a 79.4% FG success rate. He’s only 2-for-4 from 50-plus yards.
Stanford kicker Jet Toner has the coolest name in the draft. He could be a character from a sci-fi movie, or he could be a minor character in a Southern gothic novel. Toner went a perfect 100% on XPs at Stanford. He connected on 47-for-57 FGs for an 82.5% clip. He’s only 1-for-3 lifetime at 50-plus yards.
Tucker McCann (Missouri) earned some attention for his triple-kicking threat. McCann handled kickoffs, field goals, and punting duties. McCann connected on 76% of his field goals over the past three seasons with Missouri. He’s 3-for-6 for 50-plus yards over the past two seasons.
For more of OG’s coverage of the upcoming NFL Draft, check out…
- Top 5 RB Prospects: Swift, Taylor, Dobbins, Moss
- Top 5 QB prospects with four first rounders?
- Which prospects saw their draft stock go up, or down?
- WR passing QBs in-depth this NFL Draft
- QB sleepers: Nathan ‘Air Canada’ Rourke, Anthony Gordon
- RB Sleepers: Eno Benjamin, JJ Taylor
The 2020 NFL Draft begins at 8 pm on Thursday, April 23, and will run through Saturday.