Last season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ place kickers converted on just 72.5 percent of their field goal attempts and missed three extra points in the first year of the NFL’s move to a 32-yard PAT. That’s an unforgivable number of points left on the table, so drastic action was needed and taken: The Bucs traded a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs to move up in the second round and select Roberto Aguayo with the No. 59 overall pick. Aguayo was one of the best kickers in college football history at Florida State, if not the best, missing just nine total attempts over three years in Tallahassee. Drafting kickers that high almost never happens, but this seemed like the surest of things in what can be a seven-round crap shoot.
Nearly four months later, that sure thing is getting booed by fans in practice.
Aguayo missed an extra point in his first preseason game and missed two field goals in his second. During practice Tuesday — a session that was open to season ticket holders — he missed three kicks. The fans booed.
— Pat Donovan (@PatDonovanNFL) August 23, 2016
“He’s struggling,” Bucs Coach Dirk Koetter said of Aguayo, who signed a four-year, $4 million contract with more than $2 million guaranteed. “He’s struggling a little bit right now. He has to work his way through it. We’ve talked to him. He knows what he has to do. He’s working through it.”
No matter how good a kicker looks in college, spending an early-round pick on one can be a risk. The Raiders took Sebastian Janikowski in the 2000 first round and he’s still around, and the last kicker to be selected in the second round before Aguayo — Mike Nugent in 2005 by the Jets — has been with the Bengals since 2010 (though he’s in a battle for his job this season). But for every Janikowski, Nugent or Jason Hanson (the 1992 second-round pick who played 21 seasons for the Lions), there’s a Steve Little, who lasted just two seasons after the Rams took in the 1978 first round. There’s a John Lee, drafted by the Cardinals in the 1986 second round and was out of football one year later. There’s a Jerry DePoyster, who went 3 for 15 on field goals after the Lions picked him in the 1968 second round and was moved to punter, where he lasted two more seasons.
And so the Bucs probably will have to wait this out. Koetter on Tuesday deferred a question to General Manager Jason Lichtabout whether the team will bring in another kicker, and Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times notes that Tampa Bay probably wouldn’t go so far as to cut Aguayo this season, saying they could sign someone else and still keep him on the roster as an inactive player on game days.
There was one shining moment for Aguayo on Tuesday, as well: Tasked by Koetter with making a 50-yard field goal so his teammates could end practice early, Aguayo nailed it.