So, I hate this pick. I'm just going to say that up front. But like any good fan, I'm going to work hard at rationalizing whatever move the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just made. Bear with me while I try to tame my inner hater. My apologies for letting him come out a couple times throughout this post.
Roberto Aguayo is very, very good
He never missed a kick inside 40 yards in college. He was less reliable beyond 40 yards, but due to the angles those kicks are a lot harder in the college game than they are in the NFL. Extra points were moved back last year, making this consistency in short range more important -- though we're talking about a league average kicker going from 99% on extra points, to 94% under the new rule. That's a few points per year.
What makes Aguayo even more important, though, is his skill on kickoffs. Connor Barth held his own there last year, getting a touchback on 50% of his kicks. Aguayo should do significantly better there, though. More importantly, he also has the ability to hit high-flying kicks inside the five-yard line, which is a very big asset now that teams get the ball at the 25-yard line on a touchback. Both Dirk Koetter and Jason Licht touched on that in their press conference today.
The Bucs lost multiple games due to missed kicks last year
The Bucs lost a lot of games last year. A few them are pinned on kickers. Kyle Brindza was particularly horrible, missing six of his 12 field goals and two of his eight extra points before being replaced by Connor Barth. He missed 10 points worth of kicks in a 19-9 loss to the Houston Texans, and seven in a 37-23 loss to the Carolina Panthers. Had he hit those field goals in the latter game, the Bucs would have had an opportunity for a game-winning field goal.
Connor Barth also had a few crucial misses. He was accurate overall, hitting on 82% of his field goals and missing one of 26 extra points, both of which are about average for NFL kickers. He did, however, miss four points in what would have been a 16-16 game against the Colts. Instead the Bucs lost by 25-12.
Having an above average kicker throughout the year could have turned those games from three losses into two wins and one loss. A perfect kicker may even have made it three wins. That's pretty valuable.
Kickers drafted in the top 60 do very well
Last three NFL kickers drafted in top 60 have averaged 16 years, 364 career field goals. Nugent, Janikowksi still kicking; Hanson 21 years.— Greg Auman (@gregauman) April 30, 2016
Let's not mention that the Jets cut Nugent one game into his fourth season, or that of these three only Jason Hanson was ever a true top kicker -- Janikowski's always had accuracy issues even with his big leg. And if we expand this beyond the top 60, this starts to look worse as well. There is at least a track record of long-term success.
Jason Licht had info he had to trade up for Aguayo
In his press conference after the pick, general manager Jason Licht implied that that he heard some whispers that they'd have to trade up if they really wanted Roberto Aguayo. That doesn't mean what they gave up to get him was worth his value, of course, but he likely wouldn't have been there had they waited for him to fall. Licht has shown that he has a fairly good feel for where playes will land in the draft, so we'll trust him on that.
The fourth-rounder they gave up for Aguayo was "free"
This is something Dirk Koetter touched on in his press conference. He noted that the fourth-rounder they'd used to trade for Aguayo was "free," because they'd gotten it for trading down two spots with the Chicago Bears in round one. So from that perspective, the Bucs just used a third-round pick on Aguayo. Which....isn't necessarily all that much better, but still.
That is complete nonsense. They had that pick, they could have used it in any number of ways. It was not free: they gave up two spots of draft position in the first round to get it. It represented value, and Koetter is essentially saying that it was valueless by implying it doesn't matter they gave it up. That's just a terrible way to look at your assets.
What's worse, the Bucs got absolutely terrible value in their trade up. Looking at Chase Stuart's trade value chart, the one based on the historical performance of draft picks, They gave up a combined value of 12.1 to get a value of 8.6. That's a 3.5-point difference, which is the equivalent of the 132nd pick in the draft -- a late fourth-round pick. That's awful!
Oh sorry, I couldn't keep the hater quiet there.
Not worrying about kickers is fun
Worrying about whether a kicker is going to make a field goal is very, very frustrating. It's part of why people tend to overestimate how many kicks a kicker misses, and part of why they overestimate how much better those other kickers around the league are. With Aguayo, if everything goes to plan, Bucs fans can probably rest easy whenever he trots out onto the field. So, that's good.