It’s everywhere on social media and it’ll be talked about for years to come: the Buccaneers traded up 15 spots back into the second round to select kicker Roberto Aguayo from Florida State. On the surface, this pick is confusing, but a case can be made for this selection.
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I’ll be honest, when Tampa Bay selected Roberto Aguayo in Friday night’s second round, I was shocked and confused. My thoughts echoed everyone else’s: a kicker in the second round? Some time passed, the thought that “hey, kickers are people too” went through my mind and I started to think of the pick in a more positive light.
One of the bigger criticisms about the selection of Aguayo with the 59th pick is what the Bucs gave up to move back into the second round. Tampa Bay sent the 74th and 106th picks to Kansas City in order to move up to draft a kicker. Again, the surface of the deal is deceiving.
Pick number 106 is the selection that the Bucs received from Chicago on Thursday night when they traded down two spots to number eleven, so in reality, nothing is really lost by giving that pick away.
General manager Jason Licht still got “his guy” Vernon Hargreaves III at eleven and helped the team’s kicking situation by giving up the 106th overall pick for Aguayo, who wasn’t guaranteed to be on the board much longer in Licht’s mind. Giving up number 74 is something that is being criticized as well, but because Tampa Bay dealt a pick that they didn’t have before Thursday night, the third-round pick was the one essentially used on Aguayo.
Looking past all of the questions surrounding whether or not a kicker is worth a second-round pick, it’s hard to knock on Aguayo’s talent. In three seasons at Florida State, he made 69 of his 78 field goal attempts (88.5 percent) and 198 of his 198 extra point attempts. The glaring concern is him going 20-for-29 on kicks over 40 yards, but every draft pick has areas where they need to improve. Five of his misses came in 2015 after he missed just four from 40-plus yards out in his first two seasons. Optimists will call it a down year while pessimists will look at it as the start of a downward trend, but as Aguayo gets older, his leg will get stronger and there’s no question that he will put the work in to prove himself as a reliable kicker.
Bucs fans have been frustrated with the kicking game for years now as they have watched the team go from Connor Barth to Patrick Murray to Kyle Brindza and back to Barth. In 2015, Tampa Bay kickers hit just 72.5 percent of their field goals, which was 30th in the league, and missed three extra points. Since the start of the 2014 season, the Bucs have lost eleven games by a touchdown or less. With a revamped offense, they have started the process of cutting down those close losses and turning them into wins, but a consistent kicking game has been lacking for much of the last few years. In Aguayo, Tampa Bay thinks they’ve found someone to turn those trends around.
This pick is going to be talked about for years. As with any draft pick, Aguayo will need time to show whether or not he was worth it. Are some fans going to stay convinced that taking a kicker in the second round is wrong? Sure. But, in the past couple of years, Licht has proven that he deserves the trust of Bucs fans when it comes to the draft. Players took to social media to express their love for the pick. Was it the right one? Time will tell, but there’s certainly a good case for what the Bucs did in the later hours of round two on Friday night.