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NFL Draft Outlook - Daniel Carlson

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It’s a tough life for kickers in the NFL, but Carlson has a shot to be a great one.

Alabama v Auburn Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As we continue our preparation for the NFL Draft next week, we’re in the process of taking a look at all of our Auburn guys who are looking to get drafted. So far, we’ve previewed Carlton Davis, Kerryon Johnson, and Jeff Holland. Today, we look at fan favorite Daniel Carlson.

Daniel Carlson has been around for a while. Ranked the top kicker coming out of high-school and the #6 overall recruit from his home state of Colorado, Daniel came to the plains in 2013, just in time for the season of our dreams. While he redshirted that year, he was able to learn from now Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey, a pretty great kicker in his own right.

Carlson has started every game for Auburn the last four seasons, and he claimed almost every Auburn kicking record in doing so. A quick glance at his final career line shows he went 198 for 198 on extra points, 92 for 114 on field goals, and amassed a total of 480 total points - obliterating the former Auburn and SEC scoring records. If you do the math, you’ll also see that the 198 extra points and 92 field goals don’t add up to 480, they add up to 472. In 2016, Gus decided to stunt on his former employer by having Carlson fake a field goal and carry the ball in for a 20 yard touchdown. When he decided to come back for the 2017 season, he got to mentor his little brother, Anders, who is the heir-apparent to Auburn’s place kicking dynasty.

So, all in all, it’s safe to say Legatron has had a heck of a career on the Plains. As much as we hate to lose him, he’s going to make some NFL franchise very happy about not having to worry about field goal problems. He obviously isn’t going to be an early round pick simply because he is a kicker, and kickers shouldn’t be drafted early, unless you’re this guy. But where does the NFL value Daniel Carlson?

Lance Zierlein at NFL.com has Daniel as a 5-6th round pick, and he will probably be the first kicker taken overall. He also had this to say:

Kicker with good size and a strong leg for both field goal and kickoff duties. Carlson put together two very strong efforts in 2015 and 2016, but struggled with his accuracy in 2017. He has the talent and mechanics to be taken on the third day of the draft and become an early contributor as long as his ball striking and confidence are where they need to be.

I think it’s a fair analysis, as Daniel’s accuracy slipped from 88% to 74% this past season. Anyone who has watched him kick, though, knows he has a cannon of a leg, and he’s got great form to go with it. From an amateur’s eyes, I think his accuracy may have suffered this year in part because of Auburn’s redzone struggles. It seemed like every time he missed a kick this season, he was kicking it from inside the 10 (or even 5) yard line while up against a hash. I have to imagine the skinnier hashes in the NFL will help his game quite a bit.

A possible landing spot could be the Cincinnati Bengals, who have drafted a few Auburn guys recently in Carl Lawson (2017) and C.J. Uzomah (2015). The Bengals have a veteran kicker who hasn’t performed well recently in Randy Bullock, and the team has an abundance of late round picks that they could spend on a kicker. Cincy Jungle had a write-up of Carlson the other day.

The 2018 draft features a pair of kickers who are certainly draftable before the last round, in Carlson and Florida’s Eddy Pineiro. If the Bengals are serious about challenging and replacing a mediocre veteran kicker with a good, young kicker, Carlson is about as good as they come in the 2017 draft.

Daniel Carlson will likely get drafted, but it comes down to which team is willing to jump the gun in the 5th or 6th round to get the best kicker in the draft.