Pro Bowl Kicker Jay Feely: I Would Never Draft A Kicker

The former Pro Bowler respects the position as much as anyone, but he would never draft a kicker – for many reasons

Reiter Than You
October 30, 2018 - 7:00 am

USA Today Images

Daniel Carlson had a rough day at the office Sunday – and it cost him his job as a result. The rookie fifth-rounder out of Auburn missed three field goals in Green Bay, including a 35-yarder that would have won the game in overtime. Instead, the Vikings settled for a 29-29 tie – and cut Carlson on Monday. They signed Dan Bailey in his stead.

How do kickers stay mentally focused in the NFL? 

“Different guys do different things,” former Pro Bowl kicker Jay Feely said on Reiter Than You. “Stephen Gostkowski has told me that he sings a certain song. He sings that song to kind of put him in the same mental frame of mind going out for that kick. I was big on sports psychology. For me, it was not allowing my mind to wander – not thinking about the implications of what I’m doing, how important that kick is on this game or on my next contract or on my career. You can think negatively: ‘If I miss this kick, I know I’m going to get cut, and if I get cut, I’m probably going to be done in the NFL.’ You can start thinking about all these big implications and then you lose focus on the actual fundamentals that are going to help you make that kick.”

Carlson missed from 48 and 49 yards against Green Bay. When he trotted out to attempt the game-winner, it was clear his confidence was shot.

“He was hoping he was going to make that kick – not knowing he was going to make it,” Feely said. “There’s a big difference. When you start hoping that you’re going to do something, you’ve already lost. You’re not focused on the fundamentals. You’re allowing the pressure of that moment to have a negative impact on you. I’ve been there before, and I know how that is. You have to win that mental battle.”

Unfortunately, NFL teams don’t know how their kickers will respond to pressure until after they’ve won or lost the game.

“It’s very hard to know which guys will be able to handle the day-in, day-out pressure of kicking in the NFL and when your job is reliant on it,” Feely said. “There’s not another kicker on the roster, and if they’re going to make a move, they’re going to cut you and release you and your career is going to be over and the inherent pressure that comes along with that. It’s one of the reasons why, if I were a general manager, I would never draft a kicker.”

Especially not early. The Buccaneers selected Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 Draft. He is currently a free agent.

“The Vikings moved up to the fifth round to take Carlson this year and the Bucs move up to take Aguayo a couple years ago,” Feely said. “I think moving up is laughable to do that – and I respect the position as much or more than anybody. But because you don’t know how those guys are going to handle the pressure, the best way is to find the best two or three best rookie free agents – if you want to go the rookie route – have them come into training camp, put them in pressure situations, and see how they respond.”