Here's Why Patriots Chose Justin Rohrwasser Over Other Kicker Prospects
The New England Patriots made a bit of a surprising selection when it was their turn to pick for the first time on Day 3 of the 2020 NFL Draft.
New England is known for drafting specialists in the fifth round, so when they were up at No. 159, the expectation was that they would select a kicker since they did not have one on the roster. While they did draft a kicker, it wasn't one of the top prospects like Rodrigo Blankenship, Tyler Bass, or even J.J. Molson. They chose Justin Rohrwasser out of Marshall.
Rohrwasser wasn't one of the top prospects in this year's draft class, which can be shown in SI's prop bets for who will be the first kicker to be drafted. But there is one bit of adversity Rohrwasser has experienced that caused his named to be called by New England on Day 3: weather.
I'll let head coach Bill Belichick explain furthermore:
"Today we waited for a while until we were able to pick [Justin] Rohrwasser as our kicker," Belichick said during his videoconference on Saturday. "He's had really an impressive career. Big leg, kicks the ball well. Not great conditions, but handled it well. A mature kid, strong kid."
Belichick elaborated a bit more when asked about Rohrwasser later in the videoconference.
"Yeah, again, (Rohrwasser has) kicked in not great conditions," he said. "There's been plenty of days that he's had good conditions. I'm not saying it's all been blizzards. He's got a good leg, kicks the ball straight, has good hang time on the kickoffs, gets it up on the field goals. We'll see how all that goes now in a little different environment here. But I think there's a lot to like with him. He did well at both URI and at Marshall."
Unlike some of the prospects that got to kick in warm weather and sunshine for their collegiate careers, Rohrwasser didn't get that luxury. Now, he didn't deal with entirely bad weather during his time at Marshall, but he had to kick in poor conditions more often than his peers.
"That's basically what I've been doing for the past month and a half because I'm out in Buffalo, New York, training and we don't have the best weather every day here," Rohrwasser said during his videoconference on Saturday when asked what his experience was with kicking in bad conditions. "We can't really get into indoor facilities, so it's been training outside in the high wind and the rain and sometimes snow, like this past week. I did spring ball outside in Rhode Island, so I'm very well-versed in bad weather and bad conditions for kicking, and I'm confident I can excel in it."
The Patriots deal with plenty of poor weather conditions throughout the season. On any given week at Gillette Stadium they could be dealing with high wind, rain, cold weather, snow, or any combination of those conditions. So getting a kicker who has experience kicking in those situations is advantageous.
Along with having experience in poor conditions, Rohrwasser brings plenty to the table in terms of his kicking ability. He has a knack for pinpointing his kickoffs, whether it be kicking them high, right at the goal line, etc. which is an under-the-radar skill set that Belichick will utilize. Last season at Marshall, Rohrwasser kicked with 85% accuracy on field goals (18-fo-21). He was 4-of-5 from 20-29 yards, 7-of-8 from 30-39 yards, 5-of-6 from 40-49 yards, and 2-of-2 from 50+ yards, which shows he also is very accurate from long range.
With Stephen Gostkowski being released this offseason, New England was in the market for a new starting kicker. Rohrwasser will be the frontrunner for that job this summer since there are no other kickers on the roster.