We'll get back into serious draft previews tomorrow, but my time is limited today so let's get this out of the way. Seattle needs a kicker. If Olindo Mare signs with Denver, that's a need they'll have to fill through the draft or, preferably, after the draft. Research has proven that field goal percentage is a poor measure of a kicker. So, let's simplify this. Instead of worrying about which kicker you can count on to get you that game winning field goal (the answer is "none"), let's focus on which kicker can help you win throughout the game by improving your field position with good kickoffs. Here's my top five kickers:
Garrett Hartley: Oklahoma was second to Air Force at forcing touchbacks (29 in 104 attempts). Hartley has a "big" leg, which means he can kick the ball far - not that he suffers from dropsy. Best of all, he's not expected to be drafted.
Alex Trlica: Texas Tech forced 26 touchbacks in 92 attempts, presumably Trlica had something to do with that.
Chris Nendick: Once renowned for his accuracy, Nendick suffered from a slightly larger sample size. More important to us, Northern Illinois posted 16 touchbacks on just 50 attempts. Nendick is a true sleeper. Somehow, I mean that both sarcastically and seriously.
Steven Hauschka: If Hauschka can be lured away from dental school, he might be pro caliber. North Carolina State managed 12 touchbacks on just 57 attempts.
Taylor Mehlhaff: Mehlhaff is the top ranked kicker on many boards, a major red flag. Why spend a 6th round pick for someone who isn't provably better than a free agent? Still, Mehlhaff has the skills. Wisconsin posted 27 touchbacks on just 77 kickoffs.
A kicker isn't worth losing sleep over. Yes, they can win or lose games for you, but, no, there's almost no way to know who will do what when. Except for kickoff length, that's something we can count on. Any of the above kickers, especially Nendick, would make a fine addition to the Seahawks. And each should improve on Josh Brown's 13 touchbacks in 2007, including just 2 over the final 9 weeks.