Three years after famously drafting a kicker in the second round that turned out to be a horrific bust, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were at it again Saturday in the 2019 NFL Draft.
GM Jason Licht and new head coach Bruce Arians pulled the trigger on a 5th round selection of Utah kicker Matt Gay:
A Lou Groza Award winner, @MGtweetymonster brings raw talent to the table.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) April 27, 2019
The immediate comparisons were pulled out by draft analysts on the NFL Network, ESPN and the internet to the Bucs very infamously taking Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 draft. And Tampa Bay and Licht traded up into the second round to make sure that he grabbed the FSU former All-American kicker.
As you probably know by now, Aguayo had a rocky first season, where he missed more combined kicks (field goals and extra points) than any kicker in the NFL that season. And, he was subsequently waived after the first preseason game of 2017.
Back to Gay. He has been to Utah kicker the last two seasons at 6’0, 230 lbs. He made 56 field goals with an 87% conversion rate during his two-year career in Salt Lake. Gay’s best season was 2017, where he won the Lou Groza award for the nation’s top place-kicker making 30 of 34 field goals and 40 of 40 extra points. Gay was also named consensus first team All-American that year.
Last season, Gay converted 26 of 31 field goals and was a third-team All-American and a semi finalist for the Groza award. He also holds the Utah record with eight career field goals of 50 yards or longer.
Bucs head coach Bruce Arians joined ESPN’s Draft coverage live shortly after Gay’s selection with the 7th pick in the fifth round. “We got to score points, baby,” was his answer to host Trey Wingo’s question about taking a kicker in round five.
Tampa Bay had previously re-upped their kicker at the end of last season, Cairo Santos. Santos came in for the final seven games of 2018 and converted 9-12 field goals and 17 for 17 extra points. Tampa Bay re-signed Santos on a one year $1 million deal, but only $195,000 was guaranteed.
Now, obviously, the Bucs want Gay to come in and win the job.
One aspect that began to psychologically affect Aguayo was missed extra points at the greater distance than you’re used to in college. Aguayo began missing those in the preseason of his rookie year 2016 and continued to miss them throughout the regular season, as well.
Gay was a perfect 85-85 in the shorter college extra-point, but it bears watching once his NFL career begins this fall.
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