The New Orleans Saints are in the market for a kicker, that is clear. Whether or not they address the need in free agency or the draft is up to them, but former Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo is certainly an enticing option.
Don’t knock it till you try it. And by try it, I mean taking the little time to read why the New Orleans Saints need a kicker not named Kai Forbath next season. Kickers might be the most underrated players in all of the major sports. Why? Because it’s not a sexy position. It’s not a skill position like say a wide receiver or a pass rusher.
But kickers often times can be the difference between a win or a loss, whether it’s a meaningless preseason contest, or the annual ‘Big Game’ we like to call the Super Bowl. In the New Orleans Saints’ case, a kicker was the difference in getting the club to their first and only Super Bowl when Garrett Hartley drilled a 40-yard game-winner to seal an NFC Championship title in overtime on the evening of January 24, 2010.
Unfortunately, Hartley was not the long-term solution. Since then, he has struggled to make a name for himself in the NFL due to injury and inconsistency. But what the New Orleans Saints need, now, is a long-term answer at the kicker position, again, whether or not they turn to free agency or the draft. However, I think the draft is their best option, and for good reason — Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo.
Aguayo is scattered all over the draft in a number of mocks, going as early as the third round in some. I mean, who wouldn’t want the most accurate kicker to ever hit the NFL Draft? The New Orleans Saints’ inconsistency over the years at the position has been beyond frustrating and even sickening at times.
While many will challenge the decision to draft Roberto Aguayo with all the glaring holes on defense and a total of only six picks in 2016, it is not a waste of a pick. He’s that good. Again, he is the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, and the Saints have not had a franchise kicker in a very long time. You can’t argue the truth and you can’t always go “sexy” with your draft picks.
My co-editor, John Hendrix, said at the beginning of February, the New Orleans Saints must absolutely draft a kicker. He even mocked Aguayo to the Saints, and so did I. Here’s a little snippet from John on why the Florida State phenom should at least be considered. Numbers don’t lie:
"For starters, here’s the kicking carousel the Saints have gone through under Sean Payton’s tenure:2006 – John Carney (42) / Billy Cundiff (26)2007 – Martin Gramatica (32) / Olindo Mare (34)2008 – Martin Gramatica (33) / Garrett Hartley (22) / Taylor Mehlhaff (23)2009 – John Carney (45) / Garrett Hartley (23)2010 – John Carney (46) / Garrett Hartley (24)2011 – John Kasay (42)2012 – Garrett Hartley (26)2013 – Garrett Hartley (27) / Shayne Graham (36)2014 – Shayne Graham (37)2015 – Zach Hocker (24) / Kai Forbath (28)A total of 10 different kickers have come through the Saints organization on their active roster from 2006-2015, and that’s not counting the changes made when going back to players like John Carney and Garrett Hartley. We’re also not counting battles that had the likes of Dustin Hopkins and Derek Dimke.It gets way worse for the black and gold, as the players brought in weren’t so efficient at kicking. The Saints have a collective accuracy of 79.3 percent in 10 seasons (214-for-270).As you can see, the Saints had their worst kicking season in 2007 (68.2 percent), and their best coincidentally in Sean Payton’s first season (88.5 percent)."
If the New Orleans Saints did decide to bring Aguayo home in say the fourth round, they’d be drafting somebody who was a perfect 16 of 16 from 40 yards or less in 2015. He’s 69 of 78 on his career with Florida State, while never missing an extra point.
He isn’t some standout long-range kicker, but it’s the accuracy that counts. Between field goals and extra points, he made 96.73% of his kicks in college. Remember, points add up, and somebody like Aguayo could be the difference between a win or a loss in close games, just like we talked about.
At 69% accuracy and a missed extra point, Kai Forbath was nothing spectacular for New Orleans in 2015. He had his moments, but the inconsistency without question overshadowed it, and some fans continue to be too stubborn to admit it.
At NFL Scouting Combine festivities on Wednesday, Aguayo said he has been playing close attention to the teams that need a kicker, with the New Orleans Saints being one of them, of course. While nothing is guaranteed, chances are very high that he’ll find success at the next level, and sooner rather than later. It may not happen, but he’s the perfect match for the Black and Gold. Duke kicker Ross Martin is a good look as well, and he will most likely be available in the late rounds.