Evan McPherson
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Is it possible that the New York Jets could find the long-term answer to their kicking problems in the 2021 NFL draft?

The New York Jets have already addressed plenty of dire needs this offseason, but there is one gaping hole that they have not paid any attention to at all on the free agent market: the kicker position. From 2019-20, the Jets ranked 31st in field goal percentage (71.4%) and dead-last in extra point percentage (84.3%). Yet, the only kickers on the roster remain Chase McLaughlin and Sam Ficken, who have both hit under 80% of their career field goal attempts.

Could the Jets be looking to add an infusion of youth to the competition through either the draft or the undrafted free agent market? Here are some of the top kicker prospects in the 2021 class.

Evan McPherson, Florida

  • Class: Junior
  • Height: 5’11
  • Weight: 185
  • Career FG%: 85.0
  • Career XP%: 99.3
  • 2020 FG%: 77.3
  • 2020 XP%: 100.0

Evan McPherson is the clear No. 1 kicker prospect in the 2021 class. McPherson made 89.5% of his field goals in each of his first two seasons with the Gators before dipping down to 77.3% in 2020 as he made 17 of 22 attempts. Even with the third-year decline, his career field goal percentage of 85.0% stands as the best in SEC history and the 14th-best in Division-I football history.

McPherson’s dip in overall field goal percentage this past season was mostly due to a drastic increase in the difficulty of his tries. McPherson tried seven field goals from 50+ yards out in 2020 after attempting only one over his first two seasons combined. He was solid on those, making 4-of-7 (57.1%), slightly below the 2020 NFL average from 50+ yards out (63.1%). McPherson remained solid overall in 2020, making all 11 of his attempts from under 40 yards and all 52 extra points.

On extra points, McPherson missed only one of his 150 career attempts, although the NCAA distance remains just 19 yards compared to the NFL’s 33 yards.

McPherson handled kickoff duties throughout all three of his years at Florida and did a great job. His career hangtime average was exactly 4.0 seconds, which is above the 2020 NFL average of 3.98. The average starting field position generated by his kickoffs was the opponent’s 24.2-yard line, also better than the 2020 NFL average, which was the 25.8-yard line. However, McPherson wasn’t strong as a last line of defense, recording no tackles and three missed tackles in his career.

Career FG% numbers by distance range, vs. 2020 NFL averages:

  • Under 30 yards: 95.2% (2020 NFL average: 96.3%)
  • 30-39 yards: 93.8% (2020 NFL average: 93.0%)
  • 40-49 yards: 73.3% (2020 NFL average: 80.9%)
  • 50+ yards: 62.5% (2020 NFL average: 63.1%)

With above-average kickoff production, tremendous consistency on extra points, and a field goal kicking resume that closely mirrors that of the average NFL kicker, McPherson could hear his name called on the third day of the NFL draft.

Jose Borregales, Miami (FL)

  • Class: Reshirt Senior
  • Height: 5’10
  • Weight: 205
  • Career FG%: 79.5
  • Career XP%: 98.2
  • 2020 FG%: 90.5
  • 2020 XP%: 100.0

Jose Borregales was a mediocre kicker over his first three seasons at Florida International, but a breakout senior season following a transfer to Miami has him on the NFL radar.

After making 75.8% of his field goals and missing three extra points from 2017-19, Borregales made all 37 of his extra points and connected on 20 of his 22 of his field goals (90.5%) in 2020. He went 2-of-2 over 50 yards, 11-of-11 under 40 yards, and 7-of-9 from 40-49 yards.

Borregales rarely handled kickoffs over his first two seasons before taking over the role full-time from 2019-20. He didn’t put up the best numbers, generating an average field position of the 26.0-yard line and posting a hangtime average of 3.78 seconds. As a tackler, Borregales recorded one tackle and two misses throughout his career.

Career FG% numbers by distance range, vs. 2020 NFL averages:

  • Under 30 yards: 92.6% (2020 NFL average: 96.3%)
  • 30-39 yards: 75.0% (2020 NFL average: 93.0%)
  • 40-49 yards: 72.0% (2020 NFL average: 80.9%)
  • 50+ yards: 75.0% (2020 NFL average: 63.1%)

If teams buy Borregales’ improvement in 2020, he could be drafted late, but his massive struggles with shorter-range kicks over three years at Florida International could scare some teams off. He should get a shot as an undrafted free agent signing, though.

Riley Patterson, Memphis

  • Class: Senior
  • Height: 6’0
  • Weight: 190
  • Career FG%: 77.1
  • Career XP%: 97.6
  • 2020 FG%: 68.2
  • 2020 XP%: 97.3

Riley Patterson had an elite 2019 season that puts him on the NFL radar, but his body of work outside of that campaign is not good. He did not eclipse a 75.0% field goal percentage in any of his other three seasons.

In 2020, Patterson made just 15 of his 22 field goal attempts (68.2%). To be fair, his job was tough as 15 of his 22 attempts came from at least 40 yards out, but he was still subpar on those kicks as he made just 5-of-8 from 40-49 yards (62.5%) and 3-of-7 from 50+ yards (42.9%).

Patterson’s 2019 season was outstanding. He made 20 of his 22 attempts (90.9%) and accomplished that while shining from long-distance. Patterson made all six of his tries from 40-49 yards and 5-of-6 from 50+ yards out (83.3%).

Extra points are a concern for Patterson, as he missed at least one in all four of his seasons and compiled six misses in total throughout his career.

On 302 career kickoffs, Patterson generated an average starting field position of the 25.2-yard line and had a 3.90 hang time average. He was a very active last line of defense, racking up six tackles against three missed tackles.

Career FG% numbers by distance range, vs. 2020 NFL averages:

  • Under 30 yards: 94.7% (2020 NFL average: 96.3%)
  • 30-39 yards: 90.9% (2020 NFL average: 93.0%)
  • 40-49 yards: 68.0% (2020 NFL average: 80.9%)
  • 50+ yards: 52.9% (2020 NFL average: 63.1%)

I wouldn’t expect Patterson to be drafted, but he should land on a training camp roster.

Jake Verity, East Carolina

  • Class: Redshirt Senior
  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 201
  • Career FG%: 75.5
  • Career XP%: 97.7
  • 2020 FG%: 66.7
  • 2020 XP%: 96.8

Like Patterson, Jake Verity will get attention from NFL teams on the strength of exciting peaks from earlier in his career, but his 2020 season left a lot to be desired.

In 2020, Verity made only two-thirds of his field goal attempts (14-of-21). Difficulty was no excuse, as he tried only one 50-plus yarder (missed). He missed once from under 30 yards, twice from 30-39 yards, and thrice from 40-49 yards.

Verity had a great run from 2018-19 in which he made 43-of-50 field goal attempts (86.0%). He wasn’t great from long-distance, making only 2-of-4 from 50+ and 9-of-13 from 40-49, but he was automatic on the gimmes, hitting 32-of-33 attempts from under 40 yards.

Verity missed three extra points in his career, one of which came in 2020.

On kickoffs, Verity was unproductive, averaging a hang time of 3.90 and allowing an average starting field position of the 28.1-yard line. However, he didn’t take over the responsibility until 2019. As a last line of defense, he never made or missed a tackle.

Career FG% numbers by distance range, vs. 2020 NFL averages:

  • Under 30 yards: 96.7% (2020 NFL average: 96.3%)
  • 30-39 yards: 78.6% (2020 NFL average: 93.0%)
  • 40-49 yards: 63.3% (2020 NFL average: 80.9%)
  • 50+ yards: 40.0% (2020 NFL average: 63.1%)

Verity doesn’t have the most enticing resume. He’ll likely get a chance, but teams should aim higher if they are looking to the 2021 draft class for someone who has a strong shot of becoming a long-term solution.

Blake Haubeil, Ohio State

  • Class: Senior
  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 230
  • Career FG%: 80.0
  • Career XP%: 100.0
  • 2020 FG%: 71.4
  • 2020 XP%: 100.0

Blake Haubeil was rarely asked to kick field goals for an Ohio State team that punched the ball in the end zone with ease, attempting 35 field goals over the past three seasons, but he was solid on those opportunities as he recorded a field goal percentage of 80.0%. He also made all 146 of his career extra points for the Buckeyes.

However, Haubeil’s 80.0% mark isn’t as decent as it appears. He had an easy job, as he tried only one attempt from 50+ yards out (which he made). Haubeil missed way too many of the freebies, connecting on just 20-of-25 attempts from under 40 yards out (80.0%).

Career FG% numbers by distance range, vs. 2020 NFL averages:

  • Under 30 yards: 87.5% (2020 NFL average: 96.3%)
  • 30-39 yards: 66.7% (2020 NFL average: 93.0%)
  • 40-49 yards: 77.8% (2020 NFL average: 80.9%)
  • 50+ yards: 100.0% (2020 NFL average: 63.1%)

Haubeil had a low hangtime average of 3.8 seconds, but he generated good field position with an average mark of the 24.3-yard line.

The 230-pounder is an incredibly involved tackler, recording 12 career tackles with just one miss. Perhaps this ability will help to boost his chances of making an NFL team.

Haubeil does have a good pedigree to his name. In 2017, he was rated as the No. 2 kicker prospect in the nation by 247Sports.

How do you think the Jets should address the kicker position? Should they use a draft pick on one, wait to scoop one up on the undrafted free agent market, or look for a veteran option rather than a rookie?

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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2 years ago

McPherson. Nobody else left who’s worth it

Braden Bethwaite
2 years ago

I’d like to see a FA kicker and one in the draft… Zane Gonzales and Evan McPherson would be nice