Specifically, the kicker everyone’s talking about: Cade York
Sebastian Janikowski soon is too soon. The Raiders made him the 17th pick overall in 2000. Don’t do that. Ever. Fire John Schneider on the tarmac.
Evan McPherson in the fifth round last year was… not too soon? He missed a total of two field goals after October 10 last season and was 14-of-14 in the postseason. And Michael Dickson at 5.149 was the exact amount of soon, yeah? (I realize Dickson is not a field goal kicker per se, but deep down you know he could knock those big balls through the big uprights.)
I bring up Dickson because it’s been conventional wisdom now for decades that drafting specialists is a waste of capital. Tim Ruskell was famously pilloried for spending a sixth on a long snapper, Tyler Schmitt, taken 44 spots ahead of one Justin Forsett). Roberto Aguayo was released a year after the Buccaneers drafted him in the second round in 2016. Understandably — he made only 22 of 31 kicks, and hasn’t appeared in an NFL game since, yikes.
Along comes York, though, on the heels of McPherson, and it’s easy to get excited about how he could upgrade the offense of a team that tends to find itself in close games all the time.
York went 5-of-7 on kicks over 50 yards last season and made a 57-yarder to defeat Florida in 2020. in September. He routinely plays in front of 100,000 fans at home. He was a freshman last time he missed an extra point. He’s 33-of-39 since his sophomore season, which is an 85 percent clip.
It’s an easy transition from Geaux Tigers to Geaux Hawks.
Well, now, hold on a sec, don’t the Seahawks already have a kicker? Yes. Yes, they do, and his 2023 salary is $5 million, and none of it is guaranteed. Seattle would save $4 million, a not insignificant chunk of change, by cutting Jason Myers before June 1.
Whether Myers is better than York is hardly the point. You can find kickers on the street who’ll be just as accurate as Myers was in odd-numbered years.
If you’re looking for a pattern, the point is there isn’t one. Myers’ career line is one piece of noise after another, with one really cool streak of 37 consecutive makes in recent memory, for which we thank him. He was on fire for one season, surrounded by extreme luke-warmness. In three of his seven years, he came in under 80 percent, while the rest of the league has been accurate at a pretty steady 84 percent rate for a decade.
The Seahawks should cut Myers regardless of their action on York. But why not kick two birds with one stone and take a chance on finding the boot of the future? You’re still a few players away from truly contending in 2022; if York flops the downside is light, but if he shines the upside beyond this year is stupendous.
York is probably getting drafted. McPherson’s impact on the Bengals will sway some GMs, everybody wants to find the next Justin Tucker, and some teams have expensive kickers sitting around collecting checks.
In the last 10 drafts, 20 kickers have had their name called. Ignoring Aguayo, as one should, the timing is consistent: 19 of them in round 5 or later. The last five teams to draft kickers are the Bengals, Patriots, Bills, Rams and Buccaneers. All five were in the 2021 playoffs. Competent teams don’t necessarily wait for the UDFA free-for-all or training camp cuts to add kickers.
York is going to be discussed in Round 4, considered in Round 5, and gone by the end of Round 6. NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein expects him to be snapped up in the fifth, and I tend to agree. He’s the best college kicker; kickers tend to get drafted; they tend to get drafted starting in the fifth; he has hype surrounding him.
York didn’t handle kickoffs at LSU but as you can see from Myers’ touchback trends above, the Seahawks might be one of those teams who prefer to see the kick land inside the 5 anyway rather than traverse the whole end zone. And there’s no reason York couldn’t at least do that.
If John Schneider finds himself with an extra fifth or sixth lying around on Day 3 following a trade, it would be malpractice for him to not consider York, who will cost less than $1 million annually and can’t really be much worse than Myers’ career averages. If York is still on the board at 7.229, it would be flat-out irresponsible of the Seahawks to pass.