A lot of NFL teams would rather avoid using a draft pick on a place-kicker.
No matter how many games end with a kicker standing over a field goal and a chance to win, the position can be so fickle that teams want to use their precious draft picks on players who handle half the downs.
Roberto Aguayo said he believes he’s worth the pick it would take to get him.
And he’s got high hopes for how soon he might come off the board.
“Second or third, anywhere,” Aguayo said. “If someone’s gotten drafted in the first round, if a team really falls in love and I do well, I think first round, but mid-to-high rounds, I’d say.”
A first-round kicker might as well be a unicorn at this point. Only four kickers have ever been taken with a first-round pick — the Saints infamously took Russell Erxleben with the 11th pick in 1979 — and Oakland’s Sebastian Janikowski is the only kicker selected in the first round in the 37 years since Erxleben’s selection.
But being a Day 2 pick is almost as lofty a goal. No kicker has been drafted in the first three rounds since the New York Jets selected Mike Nugent in the second round in 2005, in part because a lot of the league’s best kickers — Indianapolis legend Adam Vinatieri, Dallas’ Dan Bailey, Baltimore’s Justin Tucker — went undrafted.
None of that history seems to matter to Aguayo.
“You never know, it could be done again,” he said. “I’m just controlling what I can control, and that’s being the best I can be. At the end of the day, it’s up to the teams to choose.”
Aguayo’s credentials are impeccable.
Highly decorated at Florida State, Aguayo won the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s best kicker in 2013 as a redshirt freshman, then followed it up by drilling 88.5 percent of his kicks for the Seminoles.
Aguayo never missed a kick inside the 39-yard line. One year after the NFL decided to spot the ball at the 15-yard line for extra points, that kind of consistency is coveted by teams who don’t have one of the league’s top kickers.
Aguayo’s only major mishap at Florida State didn’t come until 2015, when Georgia Tech blocked a game-winning attempt from 56 yards and returned it for a touchdown, ending the Seminoles’ 31-game winning streak in the regular season.
For the first time in his career, Aguayo felt a little less than automatic.
“I felt like I let the team down, but at the end of the day, it was good adversity to go through,” Aguayo said. “I fought through that. It was good, because I had two years before that were just a breeze. Fighting through that adversity, you need to get better sometimes.”
As good as he was in college, Aguayo said he believes he’ll actually be better under the glare of the NFL spotlight.
For starters, most NFL teams prefer to kick the ball out the back of the end zone for touchbacks on kickoffs, rather than the shorter, higher “mortar kicks” Aguayo often had to execute at Florida State.
And the kicks that matter most are a little easier to line up.
“It’s easier,” Aguayo said. “The hashes are closer. Growing up, I always thought, ‘Wow, the NFL is much easier than high school, let alone college.”
Aguayo is brimming with confidence, a necessary trait for a position that often finds themselves alone in the moment, with wins, losses and playoff appearances resting on their leg alone.
“For me, it’s just your personality,” Aguayo said. “They obviously know what you can do on the field. … They want to see if you’re mentally tough.”
Aguayo said he believes he’s the total package.
Enough to buck a decade’s worth of draft history at his position.