For the second time in the past four drafts, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have selected a kicker in the NFL Draft.
But this time, they took one, Utah’s Matt Gay, in the fifth round, instead of pulling off a draft-day trade to take Roberto Aguayo in 2016.
At that point, Aguayo became the first kicker since Mike Nugent to be taken in the second round. He was cut following one season in which he finished last in field-goal percentage (22 for 31; 71%). Aguayo has not kicked in the NFL since.
"Kicker's a very important position. It's one of the most important positions on the team. Right now, we have a coach that really believes in kickers and the importance of it, (he) stresses it," said general manager Jason Licht, who drafted Aguayo along with then-head coach Dirk Koetter, according to ESPN.
"When (coach Bruce Arians) was hired, we had several discussions about what we were going to do to refine the ways that we do things in terms of finding a good kicker.”
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Utah place kicker Matt Gay (97) prepares for a field goal. (Photo: Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY Sports)
Gay played soccer for two years before winning the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker in 2017. He earned first-team All-Pac 12 honors in 2018. While at Utah, the 6-foot, 232-pound kicker connected on 72% of his attempts from 50-plus yards.
When asked about the selection on ESPN, Arians said, “We need to score more points.”
Gay was one of two kickers taken in the draft; the Browns took Oklahoma’s Austin Seibert with the final pick of the fifth round.
Licht said Aguayo’s struggles did not factor into this decision.
"You wouldn't say the same thing for a receiver, if a receiver didn't work out a couple years ago that you took in the second round, would you be afraid to take a receiver in the fifth round? No," Licht said. "This is a very, very important position."
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