Tuesday is the day.
For the six TCU players invited to the NFL Combine, weeks of workouts and training have led to this moment -- the chance for everyone to put on a tight-fitted tank top and showcase his athleticism.
Well, everyone except the kicker, Jaden Oberkrom.
For Oberkrom and the other Legatrons competing with him, the Combine is a little different. Kickers don't need to run a quick 40-yard dash. They certainly don't need to show a ton of upper body strength, and the only time kickers jump is when they celebrate a game-winning field goal.
So what exactly do kickers do at the Combine?
Per NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein, kickers do what they always do -- kick.
Kick to the left.
Kick to the right.
Field goal kicks from various distances.
(Sounds a bit like a scene from Forrest Gump, doesn't it?)
Along with all the kicking, they also do interviews, take tests and do physicals like everyone else. And then they go home.
That's not to say they can't still participate in the regular drills. Last year, Notre Dame kicker Kyle Brindza completed 14 reps on bench press. But it's really up to the player if he wants to do any other typical Combine workouts.
Though the kickers' Combine is relatively straightforward, the competition is much tighter. NFL scouts aren't just looking for anyone that can kick far and high. According to Michael Husted, a retired NFL kicker who now runs a kicking school in California, scouts look for the following qualities:
- Having a strong leg with a "pop" where the ball looks different coming off of the foot than for others
- Being able to kickoff deep into the end zone
- By default, someone with a "canon" for a leg will usually get a look and a team will hope that the kicker can develop into an accurate field goal kicker, if they aren't already
Scouts also take notice if a kicker has his own way of doing things, Husted said.
"They will look for height on their field goals and if they can kick the ball deep on kickoffs," he said. "If someone has a unique swing or technique that is different than what they've seen in the past, that will stand out to them."
Oberkrom will be looking to stand out among six kickers in the Combine, one of them being Florida State's Roberto Aguayo, (i.e., "Mr. Automatic") who won the Lou Groza Award in 2013. The difference between Oberkrom and Aguayo, however, is Aguayo's numbers fell after Florida State's 2013 National Championship season (his field goal percentage went from 95.5 percent in 2013 to 80.8 percent in 2015). Oberkrom, on the other hand, has consistently improved his percentage every year.
|Season||Field Goals Made||Field Goals Attempted||Field Goal Percentage|
Oberkrom is also pretty adept at kicking from far distances, his longest field goal being from 57 yards. He's had a few flubs though, and getting blocked or missing an extra point aren't things that haven't happened to him before.
Zierlein says it's Oberkrom's kickoffs that need work.
"If he can improve his kickoff hang time and kick trajectory, he has a shot at sticking for a while because he doesn't get rattled," Zierlein said. "And he's fairly accurate."
Getting onto a pro roster won't be easy, though. Zierlein said this year's talent pool may make it more difficult for Oberkrom to get drafted.
But Husted thinks Oberkrom has a shot.
"I've been impressed with his career and feel that, depending on a team's need at kicker, he could be drafted," Husted said. "Getting drafted as a kicker is very circumstantial."
If Oberkrom doesn't get drafted -- no kickers were drafted in 2015 -- he could go the free agency route and get on a team from there. It'll be difficult, but it's not impossible.
"Kickers are like snipers," Husted said. "You only get so many opportunities and you have to come through when they present themselves."
But here and now, the focus is the NFL Combine, and I still think Oberkrom should at least run the 40. You know, just for funsies.