The Tampa Bay Buccaneers turned some heads on Friday night when they traded up to keep FSU kicker Roberto Aguayo in the Sunshine State. The Bucs nabbed Aguayo in the second round, making him the highest drafted kicker since the New York Jets took Ohio State's Mike Nugent, also in the second round, with the 47th overall pick.
Aguayo is a meticulous worker who nevertheless routinely carries a smile on his face. Yet several national media outlets, after praising the Jacksonville Jaguars choice of FSU DB Jalen Ramsey in the first round, are very much scowling at the Bucs' decision to draft Aguayo where they did.
Our parent company, SB Nation, was the most positive about the pick, although its second-round grade of the Bucs was coupled with the selection of defender Noah Spence earlier in the same round. Between he and Aguayo, SBN gave the Bucs a grade of B- for the round, but the Aguayo pick obviously weighed down their evaluation: "After scoring with Spence, the Buccaneers moved up to pick No. 59 to take kicker Robert Aguayo. It was expected that Aguayo would be a top 100 pick, but maybe not this highly."
ESPN wasn't as positive about where Aguayo was taken:
Talk about raising eyebrows. The Buccaneers traded back into the second round to take Aguayo, a Lou Groza Award winner. It was a move that cost them their No. 74 pick in the third round and their No. 106 in the fourth. This is a head-scratcher. Sure, the Bucs had kicking problems last year with Kyle Brindza before cutting him and moving to Connor Barth. But the cost here is too high. Thumbs down.
The more you read, the worse the reviews get. Said Pro Football Focus, which slapped a D- grade on the decision: "The Bucs picked a kicker. In the second round. Our special teams ace, Gordon McGuiness, compared Aguayo to former kicker Matt Stover — he had three missed field goals from 40-49 yards and two misses from 50+ last year. There are much better players on the board."
CBS Sports was quite blunt in its reaction, giving the pick a grade of F. The terse explanation: "Why take a kicker in the second round? There are a hundred of them." Sports Illustrated followed suit, also grading the selection as an F, and explaining as follows: "This one is quite simple: You don't trade up in the second round to draft a kicker."
Walter Football thought the Bucs' pick of Aguayo in the second round was, somehow, even worse than an F. It instead chose to relate it back to Matt Millen, the GM who oversaw the 2008 Detroit Lions' 0-16 record, giving the Aguayo pick a review transcending mere letter grades by describing it as a "KICK THE KIELBASA INTO THE BACKSIDE MILLEN Grade":
Oh, man. I'm always giddy when I get to give out a Millen grade, and this was a Millen grade if I've ever seen one. Look, I get that kickers are more important now, and I understand that Roberto Aguayo projects as a great kicker. But, come on. Another team that really needed Aguayo was planning on taking him in the fourth round, which would've been justified. The Buccaneers grabbed him in the second - and surrendered a fourth to move up to get him! Who were the Buccaneers leaping to get a kicker? Why would they make such a stupid decision like this!?
There are certainly two sides to this discussion. Drafting a kicker as early as the second round -- especially trading up to do so -- flies in the face of convention. Yes, there remain a number of very talented traditional position players on the board. And analysts, many of whom are rather long in the tooth, tend to be set in their ways. But that doesn't necessarily make them wrong.
It also doesn't make them right. While their rather general comments against the second-round Aguayo selection are not beyond dismissing, they also don't acknowledge the fact that things change. Specifically, the length of extra points, which are now attempted from about 32 yards. Aguayo not only never missed an extra point at FSU, he never missed -- not once -- any kick from inside 40 yards during his Florida State career. Oh, and there's the fact that Aguayo is the most accurate kicker in college football history. There are most certainly not "a hundred" kickers who can make that claim. Just one.