The Dolphins would prefer to find their new kicker in the NFL Draft, and on Monday they auditioned one of the top prospects who interests them.
Special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi flew to Auburn, Alabama, for a private workout with Auburn kicker Daniel Carlson, according to a league source. Word is Carlson did well in the workout.
Most draft analysts have Carlson and Florida’s Eddy Pineiro as the top kickers in the draft. A source said the Dolphins think highly of both of them.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein projects Carlson as a fifth- or sixth-round pick who could possibly go higher.
Carlson was 23 for 27 on field goals in 2015 and 28 for 32 in 2016 but was just 23 for 31 last year. He went 4 for 8 last season from 50 yards or more and had three of them blocked.
But he made 13 field goals of 50 yards or more in his career, converting 62 percent of those long attempts.
He made all 57 of his extra points last season and had a high touchback rate on kickoffs throughout his career.
Though he played four years at Auburn, “Carlson had a chance to be one of the few specialists with the skills to leave college early to lock up a top-100 slot in the NFL Draft,” Zierlein said. “He was the SEC Special Teams Player of the Year and first-team all-conference selection in 2016 and 2017, and league’s leading scorer in both seasons. 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.”
During Monday’s workout, Rizzi also got a look at Auburn’s Ike Powell, a long snapper in the Senior Bowl.
Pineiro, incidentally, was 17 for 18 on field goals, including 2 for 2 from 50 yards or more.
Miami also has worked out New Mexico kicker Jason Sanders, among others. Other kickers expected to receive consideration from NFL teams this year: San Jose State’s Bryce Crawford, Utah’s Matt Gay, Notre Dame’s Justin Yoon, Oregon’s Aidan Schneider, Kentucky’s Austin MacGinnis and Kansas State’s Matthew McCrane.
The Dolphins have auditioned at least one veteran kicker this offseason — former Seahawk and Vikings kicker Blair Walsh — but did not sign him. Miami lost Cody Parkey to Chicago, which gave him $9 million guaranteed in a multiyear deal.
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