Carlson Will Have to Fight for His Job

Kicker Daniel Carlson was almost perfect as a raw rookie, but had a disappointing second season with the Raiders.USA TODAY Sports photo

Tom LaMarre

by Tom LaMarre

Much has been said and written about most of the Las Vegas Raiders’ 2020 draft picks and free agent signees.

Overlooked a bit is the signing of undrafted free agent kicker Dominik Eberle of Utah State, but what it means is that kicker Daniel Carlson will have to battle to keep his job in training camp and preseason.

Two years ago, it seemed Carlson (pictured) was locked into the position for seasons to come.

After being selected in the fifth round (No. 167 overall) out of Auburn by the Minnesota Vikings in 2018, the 6-5, 215-pound Carlson bombed out early with the Vikings and was released before signing as a free agent with the Raiders.

All he did the rest of that season was convert 16 of his 17 field goal attempts and all 18 of his extra point tries, in addition to sending 20 of his 44 kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks.

“Yeah, he is the real deal,” Coach Jon Gruden told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that year. “He was a pretty high draft kick for a place-kicker. He had his struggles in Minnesota, but he has found his rhythm here and hopefully he is a long-term solution for us.”

However, Carlson lost that rhythm last season, when he made 19 of 26 field goals tries and 58 of 60 extra points, several of his misses coming at crucial times.

Those numbers are why the Raiders signed the 6-1, 190-pound Eberle, who made 64 of his 81 field goal attempts, including three longer than 50 yards, and all 167 of his extra points in his career at Utah State.

Of course, Carlson also had a brilliant college career at Auburn, converting 92 of his 114 field goal attempts and making 198 extra points without a miss. He is the Southeastern Conference’s all-time leading scorer and in a 2016 game against LSU he kicked six field goals to give the Tiger an 18-13 victory.

None of that will matter when the kicking starts in training camp.