The Bills and Dolphins each added a placekicker on the draft’s third day, with Miami taking Florida’s Caleb Sturgis late in Round Five and Buffalo selecting Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins early in Round Six.
Both teams have financial and football reasons to consider going with a rookie kicker in 2013.
The Bills’ incumbent kicker, Rian Lindell, is slated to make $2.1 million in 2013 and 2014 and $2.2 million in 2015, according to Rotoworld figures. While consistent on field goals, Lindell does not have a strong kickoff leg, forcing just 19 touchbacks in 90 attempts in the last two seasons (21.1 percent). By comparison, Hopkins, who hit 25-of-30 field goals as a senior, forced touchbacks on 39.3 percent of his collegiate kickoffs (137-of-348).
In Miami, Sturgis could replace Dan Carpenter, whose scheduled 2013 compensation is close to $2.7 million, per Rotoworld. Carpenter has connected on 81.9 percent of his field goals in five NFL seasons and is serviceable on kickoffs. However, Sturgis was accurate on field goals in his two seasons at Florida (46-of-54, 85.2 percent), and in his final collegiate campaign, 31-of-69 kickoffs went for touchbacks (44.9 percent).
Several rookie kickers immediately proved their NFL readiness in 2012, with the Vikings’ Blair Walsh, the Ravens’ Justin Tucker and the Rams’ Greg Zuerlein all faring well in their first seasons. Now, Sturgis and Hopkins seem poised to be given jobs right off the bat, too.