The end of the 2015 NFL Draft saw general manager Tom Telesco pick up an undrafted kicker in Josh Lambo. Current placekicker Nick Novak re-signed with the team in 2013 on a four-year, $6.6 million deal. Yet, I wondered, why a kicker?
We all know that Novak is one of the top players at his position. The only place it appears his game is lacking is on kickoffs. So then I decided to do some quick research on kickers and/or touchback specialists who are close to Novak in age and entered the league around the same time.
Here is what I found:
Novak, 34, has four place-kicking rivals, and they are all great at what they do. Robbie Gould (Chicago Bears, age 33), Shaun Suisham (Pittsburgh Steelers, age 34) and Mike Nugent (Cincinnati Bengals, age 33) are from the 2005 draft class. Rounding out the list is Josh Scobee (Jacksonville, age 32). Only two were drafted – Scobee in the fifth round of 2004 and Nugent was chosen in the second round of the ’05 class. As of right now, Gould and Suisham are among the most accurate top-20 kickers on a list that also has six other active individuals in a minimum of five years. Mike Vanderjagt is the number one all-time, and former-Charger Nate Kaeding appears as the third. Kaeding and Gould could generally be found in the top-three during the regular season in terms of accuracy.
Looking at field goals, Novak is 120/147 and 81.6%. Gould: 243/284/85.5%; Suisham: 231/275/84%; Nugent: 190/235/80.8. Scobee (80.7%) has made the most attempts with 291, but has missed 56 of them.
When it comes to touchbacks, though, the competition is clearly different. For 2014, Nugent and Scobee both had 37; Suisham 32; Gould 21 (through 12 games) and Novak only had 10. In 2013, they were well ahead of him by 18, almost 2 to 1. While in 2012, they were all about the same and only Gould was over 30.
One other comparison I looked at was there were eight placekickers added after the 2015 draft. Four of those actually went on to sign with an NFL team: Justin Manton (rated number one) to the Baltimore Ravens, Kyle Brindzia (108 career touchbacks and who broke John Carney’s single-season scoring record at Notre Dame) with the Detroit Lions, Ty Long chosen by the Washington Redskins, and Lambo.
So let’s get back to that guy that Telesco signed as an undrafted free agent..
Lambo is 24 years old, 6’0″ and 220 pounds. He was a walk-on at Texas A & M, playing just two years for the Aggies. During his tenure there, he was their most accurate kicker going 111/112 extra points and 21/25 field goals, giving him a career field goal percentage of 84% (a new record for Texas A & M). In 2014, he nailed all 59 of his field goal attempts. However, Lambo’s kicking duties were strictly extra point/field goal attempts, as he only kicked off twice.
While at the Combine, Lambo was 11 of 15 on field goals and showed great distance and hang time. He can be become a dangerous kicker from 40+ yards at the NFL level. The fact that he is a former MLS goalkeeper (FC Dallas from 2008-2011), as well as former US Under 17 and Under 20 soccer player with what sounds like a big leg, might be why he caught Telesco’s eye. Or, he could just be a camp body.
Time will tell.
Last year, the Philadelphia Eagles had one kicker for kickoffs and another for field goals. It’s not likely that the Chargers go that route. I believe, overall, they are happy with Novak’s performance. Lambo has looked impressive on kickoffs during training camp and in the team’s first preseason contest. But can Lambo’s strong leg force the Chargers to carry two kickers on the 53-man roster?
What are your thoughts on this choice of Telesco’s? Please share your them below.
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