Kickers are people too.
You won't hear any of the names below called on Day 1 or Day 2 of the 2020 NFL Draft. However, the potential to win the starting job and make an immediate impact is higher than any other positional player taken on the final day of the draft.
Many seven-round mock drafts don't include a single special teams player, but history tells us at least a handful will be taken before Mr. Irrelevant. I expect to see one or two kickers among them.
Let's take a look at the top kicking prospects, how they performed last season, and their odds of being drafted at the top of their position.
Blankenship (-400) is the heavy favorite to be the first kicker off the board this year. He's also the top-ranked kicking prospect by a majority of draft experts.
Blankenship has a big leg and converted 6-of-9 kicks from 50 or more yards in college, including a 55-yarder against Oklahoma in the 2018 Rose Bowl. However, scouts say his kicks tend to come out low, increasing the risk of getting blocked. That happened three times at Georgia.
Blankenship made 92.7 percent of his kicks from under 40 yards in college, which is outstanding. For context, only one NFL kicker that played in more than four games converted at a higher percentage in 2019: Harrison Butker. Blankenship is also a touchback machine, although that's now much easier to accomplish than it was a few years ago.
He missed six kicks in his final season with the Bulldogs, but that's really the only knock on Blankenship. Here's what he had to say to SI's Georgia Bulldogs Maven Brooks Austin on what he can improve on heading into the NFL:
"I'm just going to have to go back and look at some of the areas I can improve on from my career at the University of Georgia. You know, be as objective as I can be and evaluate myself and be my own toughest critique and try and take away something I can build on going forward."
Has a Chance
Bass (+450) is an exciting prospect who helped his draft stock at the Senior Bowl. There were questions about whether he could consistently kick from distance, but scouts raved about his leg during Senior Bowl practices.
Bass converted on 93% of his kicks between 30-49 yards last season, but 49 yards was his longest make. He converted only 71.4% of his attempts in total last season after making 91% of his kicks as a junior, dropping his career field goal percentage to 79.4%. However, he made his final six kicks and had that aforementioned strong Senior Bowl experience.
Some scouts view him as a kickoff specialist, but he has a chance to be more than that if NFL teams feel confident trusting Bass from 50-plus yards. He'll have to prove himself in training camp.
The Canadian-born kicker that carries the famous Molson name is the No. 3-rated kicking prospect for several scouts and analysts despite having the sixth-best odds of being taken first. However, he's likely headed for UDFA status.
Molson (+2200) can be a kickoff specialist with some slick onside techniques, but he simply hasn't made the everyday kicks necessary to be a team's full-time kicker out of the gate. He made fewer than 70% of his career kicks in college, fewer than 85% from inside 40 yards, and is 1-of-6 in his career from 50-plus yards.
Blankenship is the most likely option to be the first kicker taken, and that's appropriately reflected in the odds—it's also possible he's the only kicker drafted. However, it's not a sure enough thing to wager on at -400. Take a small shot on Senior Bowl hype pushing Bass up draft boards.
The Play: Tyler Bass (+450) [half-unit]
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