Football

Tampa Bay Bucs’ gamble with FSU K Roberto Aguayo could pay off

Florida State Seminoles kicker Roberto Aguayo stands after a field goal in the third quarter of a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Nov. 15, 2014.
Florida State Seminoles kicker Roberto Aguayo stands after a field goal in the third quarter of a game against the Miami Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens on Nov. 15, 2014. ctrainor@MiamiHerald.com

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hope their early selection of a special teams player turns out to be a bullseye.

Tampa Bay traded back into the second round and selected Florida State kicker Roberto Aguyao, the most accurate kicker in college football history and Buccaneer quarterback Jameis Winston’s former teammate with the Seminoles.

“Is it early [to draft a kicker]?” ESPN analyst Todd McShay asked after Aguayo’s selection. “Yeah, it’s early. But he’s a darned good kicker, and if he pans out, he could be a really good pick.”

Sports Illustrated rated the Buccaneers’ selection of Aguayo an “F.”

“Everybody’s going to have their own opinion of that,” Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter said of Aguayo’s selection. “That’s a unique situation ... the best kicker in college football history doesn’t come around very often.”

The 2013 Lou Groza Award winner as the nation’s best college kicker, Aguayo made all 198 extra points he attempted as a Seminole. His career field goal percentage (just over 88 percent) ranks third all-time in college football history.

Aguayo is only the ninth kicker drafted in the first two rounds since 1967, and the first such kicker since the New York Jets selected Ohio State’s Mike Nugent with a second-round selection in 2005.

Aguayo’s selection with the 59th overall pick marks the highest pick the Buccaneers have ever spent on a kicker, well higher than the 80th overall pick Tampa Bay spent on Martin Gramatica in 1999.

“A great kicker can be the difference in several games,” Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht said of Aguayo. “I’ve been around some great ones ... those guys are invaluable. ... We feel very confident about him.”

Aguayo became the second Seminole selected in the 2016 Draft, following defensive back Jalen Ramsey, who was drafted fifth overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars.

““He would’ve broken every scoring record if he stayed one more year in college football,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher told Seminoles.com about Aguayo. “He’s [kicking] 57, 58, 60 yards like he’s kicking a PAT. And then he kicks great kickoffs.”

If Aguayo becomes the Buccaneers’ starting kicker, he could make four Seminoles kickers starting in the NFL. Graham Gano handles kicking duties for the defending NFC champion Carolina Panthers, while Dustin Hopkins kicks for the Washington Redskins and Sebastian Janikowski has kicked for the Oakland Raiders since 2000.

Licht says he considered the opinion of former Seminole Jameis Winston when deciding whether to select Aguayo.

“Players can be great resources,” Licht said. “One of the things we can do [when scouting] is we go to the player on our roster that knows him,” before adding, “I’m not ready to name him assistant GM slash quarterback yet.”

Last year, the Buccaneers split kicking duties between Connor Barth and Kyle Brindza. The pair combined to make 9 of 18 kicks from 40 yards or further, while Aguayo made 23 of 32 kicks from 40-plus during his three-year Seminole career.

Florida State is expected to replace Aguyao with his younger brother Ricky, who committed to the Seminoles last June.

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