Plenty of NFL teams could be in the market for new field goal kickers.
The rule change implemented two years ago moving extra-point attempts back to the 15-yard line has changed the way teams evaluate kicking prospects.
Auburn placekicker Daniel Carlson has indicated he wants to return for his senior season on the Plains, but his draft value probably won’t get any higher.
“If Carlson came out, how high could he go?” ESPN NFL Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said on a conference call Thursday. “(Robert) Aguayo went second round and Carlson’s grade right in there. Probably if I had to project it right now for Carlson third round with possibility of being second.”
Draft protections for collegiate kickers have changed “an awful lot” with teams missing extra-points at record rates.
"I think (longer extra-point attempts) certainly makes you look at it a little closer," Kiper said.
Only eight of the 32 NFL teams haven’t missed an extra point this season. Two years ago 26 teams finished the season without missing an extra-point.
The league-wide percentage dropped from 99.4 percent to 94.2 in 2015. It’s on pace to be even lower this season with teams currently making 93.8 percent of their extra-point attempts through the first 13 weeks of the year.
The NFL broke a 46-year old record in November with 12 missed extra-point attempts in one weekend.
Carlson, who already has a bachelor’s degree, will at least weigh his options this month as Auburn prepares for the Sugar Bowl.
The fourth-year junior is already the most decorated kicker in program history. He was named the SEC special teams player of the year earlier this week and earned a second straight All-SEC first team nomination from the league’s coaches.
Carlson connected on 26 of 30 field goal attempts this year, extended his streak of extra-point attempts without a miss to 140 and had a 71 percent touchback percentage.
The two-time Lou Groza finalist’s pedigree could help teams get past the struggles Aguayo’s had this season.
“You have to be careful,” Kiper said. “Aguayo struggled a little bit last year, wasn’t as good as he’s been the previous two years and they traded up to get him in the second round, Tampa Bay did, and Aguoyo has had a major issue, been a major problem for them putting the ball through the uprights."