With the 166th overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft, the Miami Dolphins surprised a lot of people and selected kicker Caleb Sturgis (University of Florida) in the fifth round. I for one was surprised that the Dolphins would take a kicker this high, but then I thought back to last year’s season and the early struggles of Dan Carpenter, and the pick slowly grew on me.
Here is a brief background on Sturgis. Sturgis is 5 foot 10, 188 pounds. He may seem small, but he has a CANNON for a right leg. He was an All-American last season, and was all SEC in 2011 and 2012. As a senior he was a Lou Groza finalist, and boasted a career percentage of 79.5% field goals made at Florida (70 out of 88). He made 95.6% of his extra points (130 out of 136). Last year as a senior he had his best season, totaling 106 points for the Gators and making 24 of his 28 field goals, a school record. Along with Dustin Hopkins of Florida State University, Caleb was one of the two top kickers going into the draft.
I believe the Dolphins will name Sturgis the starter for the following three reasons.
1. Miami used a fifth round draft pick on Sturgis. It’s a common draft rule: you don’t take a kicker in the fifth round unless you expect him to come in and start/replace your current kicker (much like the Raiders who take kickers in the first round). If Jeff Ireland and Joe Philbin did not expect big things from this kid, they would have waited to draft him, case closed.
2. Dan Carpenter is due almost 2.7 million in 2013. Don’t get me wrong, Dan “The Man” Carpenter has been a great kicker for the Miami Dolphins. He has put up great numbers throughout his tenure as a Dolphin, but he is not worth paying almost three million next season. Carpenter also missed two makeable kicks last year that would have sealed games for the Dolphins (vs. NYJ, @AZCardinals). They lost both of those games. I am not saying that Dan is automatically gone, but the fact that Miami drafted Sturgis in the fifth round (see above) and that Carpenter is due a lot of gold next year, I would not be surprised to see him leaving Miami before that money is due.
3. The success of rookie kickers. As of late, rookie kickers have been doing great in this league. Take for example Blair Walsh (U of GA) of the Minnesota Vikings last year. As a rookie, Walsh made 35 of his 38 field goal attempts (92.1%), including 10 of 10 from 50 plus yards. He was a perfect 36 for 36 on extra points, and earned All-Pro and Pro-Bowl honors. Talk about a rookie year. Rookie kickers are the new fad. Sturgis is next!
I expect to see Sturgis lining up next year as the starting kicker for the Miami Dolphins. I am not saying there won’t be a little competition in mini-camps and training camps, but if Sturgis looks good in those, then I think we have a winner. Whatever happens, I just hope Miami only needs Sturgis to kick extra points after scoring so many touchdowns next year!
Want to see Sturgis in action? Check out this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYsQT5qar3U