Tennessee Titans made a smart move trying to solve their kicker problem now.
It is easy to be hard on coaches and GMs for keeping guys around too long, so maybe we should be praising the Tennessee Titans for signing what looks to be their kicker of the future.
Just like a lot of my articles on ANY/A and other metrics, Justis Mosqueda’s late night kicker info led me to write this.
If you don’t follow him on Twitter, then I will show you what I am talking about. By the way, go follow him on Twitter it is insane to me that you could be reading this and not follow guys like him, Thor Nystrom, Dane Brugler, Jim Cobern, and many other innovative and/or interesting evaluators.
That is an article for a different time, so let’s get back to what everyone is craving: kicker metrics!!!!
What that basically says is that there is one kicker in this upcoming draft class that has graded out as “above average” and as Mosqueda pointed out later this is with the benefits of college hash marks being closer to the middle of the field making kicks easier.
If you wanted to compare the top kicker in the class (Air Force kicker Jake Koehnke) to Greg Joseph’s 14 games in the NFL, this is what you come up with.
Gimme kicks (1-29 yards)
Koehnke:7 of 7 (100%)
Joseph: 4 of 4 (100%)
-Obviously even there so not much to talk about, let’s move on.
30-39 yard FGs
Koehnke: 8 of 8 (100%)
Joseph: 7 of 7 (100%)
-This is slightly more interesting because these are kicks that do start to add some difficulty. Joseph and Koehnke are both perfect here even with the harder NFL hash marks.
40-49 yard FGs
Koehnke 5 of 7 (71.4%)
Joseph 5 of 7 (71.4%)
-Now we are getting into the “acceptable miss territory. Obviously you never want your kicker to miss anything, but usually if you see a miss on anything less than 40 yards, as fans you get upset.
At 71.4%, these kickers would tie for 13th in the NFL for accuracy at that range among kicker with 15 or more made field goals. So, above average, but not special.
50+ yard FGs
Koehnke 1 of 1 (100%)
Joseph 1 of 2 (50%)
-Both kickers made one FG over 50 yards, but Joseph missed his second attempt and that was from 55-yards out.
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One more thing I wanted to touch on was touchbacks, which have been a big issue this season in giving some offenses free, hidden yards. This year there have been 27 kickers who have handled more than half of their team’s kickoffs.
As a kickoff specialist, 69.6% of Joseph’s kickoffs were non-returnable. That number would be the 13th best in the NFL this year and it was top-10 when he handled that responsibility in Cleveland last year.
So what is the takeaway here?
You never want to spend a draft pick on a kicker if you can help it, but at the same time going out and paying a kicker solid money in free agency isn’t a given either. So basically there is no good way to add a kicker other than as an UDFA, but even then you have to be terrified of the potential results.
For the Titans, they got to add a player that was on a practice squad working in the NFL who has a year of tape and has shown he can be an above average kicker as long as you don’t ask him to be Justin Tucker and kick from 50+ too often.
We don’t know how much the Titans are paying Joseph on his new 3-year deal, but Ryan Succop was going to make $4 million or more every year going forward. If they end up cutting Succop and get Joseph on a deal that pays him between $1-2 million per year then that opens up cap space and likely makes you much better on special teams.
Time will tell if 2018 was the peak for Joseph or if he can truly be an above average kicker in the NFL, but this was an informed decision that the numbers support and if it works then it makes the Titans money and saves them a draft pick.