In the wake of the Seattle Seahawks adding kicker Sebastian Janikowski to the roster to compete with Jason Myers, many fans asked why a team wouldn’t simply turn to the draft and take a kicker who had performed well in college. I took a quick look at the scarcity of college kickers who are even on par with NFL average kickers on Saturday, and today I’m going to touch on a different piece of the same topic. In particular, I’m going to take a quick look at how success as a kicker in college does not predict success in the NFL.
The easiest way to evaluate this on a very basic level is to simply look at the most successful kickers in college football history, and see how they have performed in the NFL. So, that’s what I’m going to do, look at a couple dozen of the most accurate field goal kickers in college football history and see how they have fared in the NFL. Today we’ll start with just the top five, so without wasting time here are the five kickers to be looked at today.
Top five most accurate field goal kickers in college football history (minimum 50 attempts)
|Kicker||Field Goal Conversion Rate|
|Kicker||Field Goal Conversion Rate|
Brett Baer went undrafted out of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2013 and was signed by the then St. Louis, but now Los Angeles Rams in order to be competition for Greg Zuerlein who had a poor rookie season in 2012 making just 74.2% of his attempts. During camp Baer recorded two kickoffs and converted the one point after he attempted, but still lost out to Zuerlein and was waived in the first round of cuts. Despite his record as the most accurate field goal kicker in college football history, and the only kicker in college football history with at least fifty attempts and a conversion rate at or above 90%, he has never kicked in a regular season NFL game.
Next we get to Alex Henery, who left the University of Nebraska as the most accurate kicker in college football history, which certainly helped him to be drafted in the fourth round of the 2011 draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. Henery’s career started well, as he converted 88.9% and 87.1% of his field goals in 2011 and 2012, however, in 2013 he dipped to 82.1% and in 2014 the Eagles decided to go with Cody Parkey.
Henery was not unemployed for long, as the Detroit Lions signed him to replace rookie kicker Nate Freese who was struggling. Freese had missed four of the first seven field goal attempts of his career, and the Lions apparently believed that Henery could do better for them. They were wrong. Henery went one for five in two games before once again finding himself unemployed. He has not kicked in the NFL since.
The third kicker on our list is nearly everybody’s favorite kicker drafted in the second round, Roberto Aguayo. Aguayo was heavily hyped coming out of Florida State in 2016 and that likely contributed to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers heavily overdrafting him. Pretty much everybody knows the rest of the story - after a horrible rookie season in which he made only 71.0% of his field goals Aguayo was waived by the Bucs, and is now a member of the Los Angeles Chargers. However, in between the Bucs and Bolts Aguayo served stints with both the Chicago Bears in the preseason and on the practice squad of the Carolina Panthers.
This brings us to Chris Manfredini, who between the University of Cincinnati and Texas Christian University converted 87.7% of his field goals in college. Remarkably, that was only slightly below his point after conversion rate of 92.7%. Manfredini was not known for having a strong leg, and in fact his leg strength was so lacking that he platooned with Pete LoCoco. LoCoco specialized in longer field goal attempts, while Manfredini was more accurate from shorter distances. Mangredini never attempted a kick at the NFL level.
The last name on the list to look at today is Jeff Budzien, who in four years at Northwestern was a perfect 136 of 136 on extra point attempts. Undrafted, he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, but lost the kicker competition to Josh Scobee and has never attempted a kick in the NFL. and
And that makes Roberto Aguayo the second most successful of the five most accurate field goal kickers in college football history with at least 50 attempts, which seems to say quite a bit about the ability to translate kicking success at the college level to the NFL. In the next piece on this topic I’ll take a look at kickers six through ten and see if any of them have fared any better at the next level.