Draft Stock Report: Roberto Aguayo

When Roberto Aguayo announced that he would enter the 2016 NFL Draft, he became the first kicker in the past 16 years to forego his final year of eligibility and enter the draft early.

The last kicker to do so?

Sebastian Janikowski, a fellow Florida State kicker and a first-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2000.

While the ceiling for kickers in the draft is never very high, Aguayo presents a special case for teams around the NFL that will be in the market for a kicker this offseason. Aguayo, the 2013 Lou Groza Award winner, leaves Florida State as the most accurate kicker in NCAA history. He converted 267 of 276 kicks, good for 96.73% which narrowly edged out the 96.67% record held by Nebraska’s Alex Henery. While he missed five field goals as a junior, he has never missed an extra point attempt in his career and scored 405 total points for the Seminoles over his three years at kicker.

Historically, kicker is not a big position of need for most teams in the draft. There have only been a handful of times when teams will reach for a kicker in the first two days of the draft (rounds one through three). Since 2000, only three kickers have been selected in the first three rounds of the draft: Janikowski was selected in the first round in 2000, Nate Kaeding of Iowa went in the third round in 2004, and Mike Nugent of Ohio State went in round two in 2005.

In fact, some of the best kickers in the league at the moment were late-round picks. Stephen Gostkowski, a four time Pro Bowler and two time All-Pro kicker for the Patriots, was a fourth round selection. Blair Walsh, the All-Pro kicker for the Vikings, was a sixth round selection. Dan Bailey of the Cowboys, who has the highest field goal accuracy of all active NFL kickers, was an undrafted free agent.

So while the ceiling for Aguayo’s draft stock might be fairly low at first glance, the changing landscape of the NFL’s kicking game brings about a whole new dimension to kickers in the draft.

Last year, the NFL voted to move the extra point back to the 15-yard line, effectively making it now a 33-yard field goal attempt. Previously, the extra point was merely a chip-shot and most teams converted 100% of their extra point attempts. From 2010 to 2014, an average of 25 teams converted 100% of their extra point attempts and the lowest conversion attempt was around 95%. However, the move back to the 15-yard line has made the extra point anything but automatic. Only four teams in 2015 converted all 100% of their extra point attempts, five teams were below 90% on their conversions, and the lowest conversion rate from any team was 82.05%. This is the lowest that the extra point conversion rate has been in over a decade of football.

As such, the kicker position has instantly become a much more valuable commodity. Teams are realizing that, with the rule change, signing a better kicker is more of a priority than it was before due to the impact it can have on a game. We saw this in the AFC Championship Game, when Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point attempt that later lead to the Patriots being down by two after a touchdown in the final minutes rather than one.

This means that Aguayo’s draft stock has certainly increased over the past couple of months as NFL teams saw their kickers struggle to make extra points. While Aguayo won’t be a high draft pick, there is the possibility that a team with kicker issues will take him in the later portions of day two, meaning at the back end of round three. Many draft analysts have Aguayo within their Top-100 player rankings so a day two selection is not out of the question. Come draft night, it is likely that many NFL teams with a need for a kicker will have a round three to four grade on Aguayo.

While a day three selection is normally the range for kickers, Aguayo presents a special case. He is the most accurate kicker in NCAA history and has proven for three years that he is able to hit any kick under any circumstance. While Aguayo will participate in the NFL Combine, the event is not really designed in a manner that helps or hinders the stock of special teams players from on-the-field drills. Rather, Aguayo will get an opportunity to meet with NFL teams for the first time and it is likely that a large majority of teams will be eager to meet with the Florida State kicker.

If Aguayo is drafted, he will become the fourth Florida State kicker in the league, joining Janikowski of the Raiders, Graham Gano of the Panthers, and Dustin Hopkins of the Redskins.

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