THE CASE FOR: YOUR FAVORITE COLLEGE KICKERS
Updated: Apr 13, 2020
With the recent cutting of Stephen Gostskowski from the New England Patriots, and in a year we witnessed countless kickers struggle with both field goals and extra points, I think it is a good time to analyze the top kickers in this year's draft. After all, who doesn’t love a skinny guy who can boot balls twice as far as the average human and usually find the entire game sitting on their shoulders? Let’s break them down.
ATHENS, GEORGIA - NOVEMBER 23: Rodrigo Blankenship #98 of the Georgia Bulldogs reacts as he is carried off the field by Charlie Woerner #89 after kicking a field goal in the first half against the Texas A&M Aggies at Sanford Stadium on November 23, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Rodrigo Blankenship, Georgia: (2019: 27-33 FG) Blankenship is the consensus number one kicker in this year’s draft. He has a cannon of a right leg, significant experience in big games, and a killer pair of goggles. Georgia was near the top of the AP College Football Rankings for practically his entire career, and he made some big kicks in the Rose Bowl against Baker Mayfield and the Oklahoma Sooners a couple of years ago. This year, he missed two huge kicks against my South Carolina Gamecocks, blowing their chance at the game. Blankenship played a major role in Georgia getting upset at home and stripped of the number 3 seed. Blankenship's struggles against the Gamecocks likely killed their shot at the College Football Playoff. Big kicks in the biggest games remain somewhat of a question when it comes to Blankenship, but there’s no denying his talent and flare.
Tyler Bass, Georgia Southern: (2019: 20-28) Bass was 19-21 his Junior year, by far his best season. He received an invitation to the Senior Bowl, where he had a successful week of
JONESBORO, AR - NOVEMBER 23: Georgia Southern Eagles place kicker Tyler Bass (16) kicks an extra point in the game between the Arkansas State Red Wolves and the Georgia Southern Eagles on November 23, 2019, at Centennial Bank Stadium in Jonesboro, Arkansas. (Photo by John Bunch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
practice and caught the eye of many NFL scouts and sports media, solidifying his spot as the consensus number two kicker behind Blankenship. While he played at a relatively small time school, he got the opportunity to play in some big games, including against the National Champion LSU Tigers (below). They may have given up 55 points, but Bass put the only point on the board, hitting a 47-yard field goal in Death Valley. Bass also kicked the game-winning 40-yard field goal in the 2018 Camellia Bowl over Eastern Michigan.
Jace Christmann, Mississippi State: (2019: 8-10)
STARKVILLE, MS - OCTOBER 14: Jace Christmann #47 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs kicks a field goal during a game against the Brigham Young Cougars at Davis Wade Stadium on October 14, 2017 in Starkville, Mississippi. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images
Christmann is a projected UFA, and putting him third on this list is likely an unpopular opinion, but that’s where I’m sticking him. Here’s why. He was sharp in SEC play. Against Tennessee, in Knoxville, he hit a 51-yarder in the Mississippi State win, he was 1/1 against both Auburn and Texas A&M, and hit 2/2 against Arkansas. He didn’t have a ton of kicking opportunities in 2019, since Mississippi State often played from behind, but he made the most of the opportunities. He’s had the chance to play on big stages, which is why I placed him third. One reason he might fall? He was charged with a DUI in February of last year, which teams will rightfully hold against him.
Jet Toner, Stanford: (2019: 12-16)
PALO ALTO, CA - OCTOBER 5: Kicker Jet Toner #26 of the Stanford Cardinal lines up a kick during an NCAA Pac-12 college football game against the Washington Huskies on October 5, 2019 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by David Madison/Getty Images)
The Honolulu native missed four kicks in 2019 but has been historically accurate. Toner went 21-26 in 2017, including 5-7 in the 40-yard range, and 14-15 in 2018. The longest field goal of his collegiate career was 51 yards. I expect teams to test his leg strength in workouts, which would be the only thing potentially holding him back. Leg strength is an issue for many college kickers and needs to be further evaluated for coaches to truly gauge a kicker's value. He is a two-time All-Pac 12 Second Team member and a two-time All-Pac 12 Academic Second Team. Toner is a likable guy and has a strong personality that makes it easy for his teammates and fans to root for him. This is who I would want my team taking, and while there’s a chance he gets drafted in round 6 or 7, it’s likely he becomes a UFA.