Kickers Are Important – Draft Edition

In my last article, I targeted free agent kickers the Browns might be interested in signing. This week I’ll look at kickers who are available in the 2022 NFL draft. Because of the hiring of Kwesi Adofo-Mensah by the Vikings, the Browns now have nine draft picks in this year’s draft. Their original seven plus an extra compensatory third-round pick (hiring of Adofo-Mensah) and an extra fourth-round pick (trade in the 2021 draft).

So, would the Browns draft a kicker?

Everyone knows the story of the Bengals Evan McPherson. He was the only kicker drafted in 2021 and Cincinnati used a fifth-round pick (number 149). At the University of Florida, he was 51 of 60 on field goals and never missed an extra point. With the Bengals, he was 28 of 33 on field-goal attempts (84.8%) and nine of eleven from at least 50 yards with the longest being 58 yards. In the playoffs this year, he is eight for eight. The game-winner versus the Titans was a 52 yarder. He also had 55 touchbacks on kickoffs.

According to the top five kickers in the 2022 NFL draft are Cade York, LSU, Gabe Brkic, Oklahoma, Nick Sciba, Wake Forest, Will Reichard, Alabama and Chandler Staton, Appalachian State. The top two from this list are Cade York and Will Reichard. For his career at LSU, York was 54 of 66 (82%) on field goals and 164 of 168 (98%) on extra-point attempts. From 40 to 49 yards, he was 11 of 18 and on 50+ yards he was 15 of 19 with a long of 57 yards. As for his clutch factor, he was one of three kickers last year to hit a 50+ yarder in the final two minutes in a game. Oliver Hodgekinson of profootballnetwork says, “Reliable, accurate, clutch, with the leg to boom it from nearly 60 yards, York is the top kicker in the 2022 NFL Draft class.”

For his career at Alabama Reichard was 40 for 49 (82%) on field goals and 176 of 178 (99%) on extra-point attempts. From 40 to 49 yards, he was 12 for 18 and from 50+ yards he was two of three with a long of 52 yards. His sophomore season he was a perfect 98 of 98 in field goals and extra points. For his career, he has missed one extra point in 153 attempts. Hodgekinson writes, “It is unusual to see a true junior kicker declare for the draft, so we might be a year early on Reichard. However, his skill set and eligibility mean he should still be considered one of the top kickers in the 2022 NFL Draft class.”

Gabe Brkic of Oklahoma is an interesting prospect. In 2019 he hit all his field goals (17 of 17) but has had two down years. However, in 2020 he attempted six field goals from 50+ yards, hitting four and in 2021 he hit his career-long of 56 yards twice. Hodgekinson adds, “The ability to boom a field goal from downtown to win a game will help separate Brkic as one of the top kickers in the 2022 NFL Draft. Furthermore, he has never missed an extra point.”

The NFL playoffs this year have proven the Browns need to find a kicker, whether it be in free agency or the draft. All three of these players are worth a day three selection.

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