Things were going so well for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They drafted one of the best cornerbacks in the draft in the first round, picking up a free fourth-round pick in the process by trading back. Then they added the best edge rusher in the draft in the second round.
We should have known that wouldn't last.
U will never convince me the difference between connor barth and this fsu kid is worth giving up picks for, just baffling turn of events— shaun king (@realshaunking) April 30, 2016
For some completely baffling reason, the Buccaneers set their sights on a kicker next. Yes, a kicker. The guy who comes on the field ten times a game to kick a ball. A job usually held by undrafted free agents and other guys teams pick up off the street, because finding competent kickers is easy. Sure, Roberto Aguayo may be better than Connor Barth or Patrick Murray -- but you're not going to convince me that he's not just better, but a high third- and a high fourth-round pick better than both of those guys.
In fact, Connor Barth hit 82% of his field goals last year. The whole kicking debacle people remember? That's mostly because of Kyle Brindza in the first three games, who's gone.
Remember the last time a team drafted a specialist in the top three rounds? Quick refresher: that was in 2012. The Jacksonville Jaguars were on the clock and could have taken Russell Wilson. Instead, they grabbed Bryan Anger, a punter. A punter who didn't go on to be the best punter in the NFL, despite the hype. And a punter who, four years later, is now on the Bucs' roster. So much for that investment.
Aguayo is now the highest-drafted placekicker since Mike Nugent in 2005. The New York Jets drafted him 47th overall. They cut him after the first game of his fourth season for being garbage. He actually went on to have a solid career and is still in the league, though he's nowhere near the dominant kicker the Jets thought they were drafting. That should sound familiar to the Bucs: they drafted Martin Gramatica in the third round of the 1999 draft. He lasted four seasons before his play collapsed, and he was cut after his fifth.
Those picks illustrate that while we may think that Aguayo is a very safe pick, we don't actually know. Kickers bust, too. At alarmingly high rates. As we pointed out a few weeks ago, only four kickers drafted before the sixth round have been long-term stalwarts for their teams. Of those, only Stephen Gostkowski is truly a top kicker. Eight kickers drafted before the sixth round since Gramatica have not made it past four years on their original teams' rosters.
Whether Aguayo busts, becomes just a decent kicker or one of the best kickers ever to play the game remains to be seen. He'll have to fall into the latter category to be worthy of the draft capital the Bucs gave up for him. Because instead of drafting Aguayo, they could have picked a starting safety like Vonn Bell (he went two picks later), or a defensive tackle like Adam Gotsis (four picks later), or a center like Max Tuerk (six picks later). Or, perhaps, a wide receiver. I hear this draft is full of them, too.
Instead, they used a second-round pick on a kicker. Good job, Jason Licht.