After rewriting the special teams record books at Rice, Chris Boswell could hear his named called Saturday during the final four rounds of the 2014 NFL Draft.
Although special teams player traditionally are not selected in droves during the draft, several teams have chosen long-distance kickers in the late rounds of past drafts. Other teams prefer to take their chances signing kickers to free-agent contracts shortly after the draft.
Boswell is rated the No. 1 kicker by CBS Sports (No. 180 overall), who projects the Owls standout to go in the fifth or sixth round. He’s also listed at No. 1 on Draft Countdown, NFL Draft Blitz and NFL Draft 101. He’s the No. 2 rated kicker behind Boston College’s Nate Freese in WalterFootball.com. ESPN put Boswell third behind Anthony Fera of Texas and Zach Hocker of Arkansas.
While there are seemingly hundreds of mock drafts online, projecting a specific team beyond the first round is not always easy, as evidence by last year’s attempt to place Vance McDonald (though Seattle did draft a Rice tight end).
Based on kicking need, past history and, in one case, geography, here are five educated guesses about where Boswell will end up.
Jason Hanson spent 21 seasons kicking with the Lions before retiring before the 2013 season. Last year’s kicker, David Akers was not resigned. That leaves the not exactly household names of John Potter and Giorgio Tavecchio as kickers on the Lions roster. Tavecchio has never kicked in an NFL regular season game. Potter has a grand total of four attempts when he was with the Redskins.
With no proven veteran, the Lions could add a kicker in the late rounds Saturday. A Sports Illustrated story written by Josh Sanchez mentions Lions special teams coordinator John Bonamego’s No. 1 priority is finding someone who can make field goals and extra points.
“The No. 1 thing we need to do is find a kicker,” Bonamego said at a town-hall meeting for season-ticket holders. “From a scouting standpoint, it’s our top priority in my department. We have two guys on the roster right now that both have some experience. We’ll evaluate those guys in this upcoming period and we’ll compare them to the guys that are coming up in the draft, the draft-eligible guys, and we’ll find one.”
Eagles kicker Alex Henry was a pretty good 23 of 28 in field goal attempts last year. But one of those misses – against the Saints in the Wild Card round – made a bad final impression. Eagles fans also have complained about some of his short kickoffs. Even if Henry remains the penciled in starter, some competition may be in order this summer.
Chris Franklin, Eagles writer for Rant Sports, is on board with replacing Henry, though his choice is going after Nate Freese of Boston College. He notes that Boswell could be the better kicker (according to scouts) but “with the Eagles needing to address other positions in the draft, selecting a kicker that high would not be a wise decision.”
Troy Weller of Cover 32 also is wondering if the Eagles should select a kicker in the draft, or sign one to a free agent contract. He rates Boswell as the top kicking prospect.
New England Patriots
Stephen Gostkowski has been a staple in New England for eight seasons, but he is going into the final year of his contract. The Pats spent a fourth round pick on him, so there is a history of using a draft pick for a kicker.
Justin Patrick of Rant Sports writes that drafting a kicker might not be as big of mistake as it sounds.
Gostkowski was great last season, hitting 38 of 41 field goals and all 44 extra points. For his career, he’s made about 86 percent of field goal attempts. It’s difficult to see any kicker, much less a rookie, winning the job, but if the Pats are planning to move on in 2015, perhaps they take a long look at this year’s draft class.
While all the attention is deservedly on the Texas No. 1 draft choice, Houston will attempt to draft several other impact players this year with an eye on bouncing back strong after last season’s debacle.
Randy Bullock was 26 for 35 kicking for the Texans in his first full season on the job. His longest made field goal was 51 yards. Bullock was 1 for 4 in a 27-24 lost to the Colts on Nov. 3. In the days following that game, Houston brought in three kickers for a tryout. Bullock kept his job, but that doesn’t mean the Texans are opposed to bringing at least one other kicker into training camp.
Of course having the No. 1 rated kicker is in your backyard, makes it a good PR move to draft Boswell. The Texans drafted James Casey from Rice in the 2009 draft. That moved tuned out quite well.
Kansas City Chiefs
If SB Nation’s barnburner was in charge of running the Chiefs, a kicker would probably get his name on a pick selection card. In the mock draft on that site, the need for a kicker gets mentioned four times, and Boswell gets a shout out. “I hear that Chris Boswell kid is a real game changer.”
Of course, the Chiefs have a kicker on the roster, Ryan Succop. The former Mr. Irrelevant was 25 of 29 in field goals in his fifth seasons for the Chiefs, his best season percentage wise. He’s made 81 percent of his field goals for his NFL career. However, his last kick attempt had an immense impact. Succop’s last-second field goal miss against San Diego cost the Pittsburgh Steelers a playoff spot. The NFL later admitted the officials missed an illegal formation on the play.
Succop has critics among Chiefs nation, though he’s been better than some of his predecessors. Nonetheless, some friendly competition is not out of the question. And Boswell does seem to kick well when players with “Kansas” on their jerseys are on the field.