Interesting insights from my Huddle Report colleague, Drew Boylhart:
Drafting a kicker is like going to Vegas. You will lose many more times then you will win and when you do win, it is just enough to make you gamble some more.
I did some statistical research on how well kickers perform over their first 3 years over recent drafts and years. I looked at years 1997 through 2002, and compared drafted kickers with some of the current undrafted kickers from that time as well.
During that span, there were 13 kickers drafted. Of them, only 6 managed to play in 30 or more games in their first three seasons. I found 9 active kickers from that time period that were undrafted and played in 30 or more games.
Among the six drafted, 5 of them connected on at least 75% of their field goals over their first three years. Comparatively, 7 of the 9 undrafted guys accomplished the same feat.
Interestingly, only 2 of the 6 drafted kickers have managed to play in at least 16 games since and connected on 75% of their field goals. While 6 of the 9 undrafted guys have accomplished that feat.
5 of 9 undrafted guys are career 80% field goal kickers, while only 1 of the 13 drafted guys.
I figured just based on a rough estimate of how many undrafted kickers were in the league last summer (about 8), I figured between 1997 and 2002 there were about 50 undrafted guys in that time period.
So based upon that estimate, you have about a 10% chance of picking up a 80% field goal kicker in the undrafted market, while its about 7.7% chance drafting a guy.
To make a long story short, I think it's just statistics that tend to point to the argument that you are no more likely to get a quality kicker in the draft or undrafted free agency. And that's why I don't believe in drafting a kicker, unless he is truly special, is really not worth the effort. You're better off just using the pick on a position where at least if the player doesn't work out, you can use him on special teams or something.
Kaeding to me was a special kicker. Sebastian Janikowski was as well. Nugent, I'm not so sure of.