The 2015 NFL season is firmly in our rear view mirror, which means it is time to look forward through the early stages of draft season. We start with a sneak peak at the NFL Combine for the rest of this weekend through Monday. lthough 332 draft-eligible prospects were invited to the NFL Combine, Friday is the day we see on-field workouts for running backs and offensive linemen. Since they are two distinct groups, we'll have two articles looking at prospects. We started with the offensive linemen and running backs. Now, we move on to kickers and punters. They did some workouts on Thursday, but appear to be doing some work as well on Friday.
How to watch
2016 NFL Combine
Location: Indianapolis, IN | Lucas Oil Stadium
Time: 6:00 AM - 1:00 PM PT
Channel: NFL Network
Live Stream: NFL Now
There are four critical areas the 49ers and all other NFL teams deem important during the NFL Combine process, which are medical evaluations, one-on-one interviews, verified measurements, and agility tests and drills. For viewing NFL fans, it is the on-field drills and agility tests the NFL Combine highlights, particularly with five on-field measurable drills performed by all prospects choosing to participate. These five drills consists of:
The marquee event of the combine is all about speed and explosion with the timed 40-yard interval measuring vertical speed over distance and acceleration from a static start. Prospects are also timed at 10 and 20 yard intervals (10-yard split and 20-yard split), where the 10-yard split measures initial quickness and burst, and the 20-yard split measures sustained quickness and burst.
The vertical jump is all about lower-body explosion, power, and leaping ability.
The broad jump is all about lower-body explosion and lower-body strength testing explosion and balance.
3 Cone Drill
The 3 cone drill is all about the prospect's athletic ability to change direction at a high speed. The drill measures agility, flexibility, and change of direction skills (COD).
The short shuttle or 20-yard short shuttle (5-10-5) is all about testing a prospect's lateral quickness, agility, burst, flexibility, balance, and explosion in short areas.
Although the bench press (225 pounds) is not part of the five on-field measurable drills performed today (bench press performed the day before), it is a crucial part of measurables testing upper-body strength (not functional strength) and endurance; moreover, it gives insight for NFL clubs on how often the prospect frequented his college weight room for the last 3-5 years.
In talking about special teamers, we can assume it is safe to say the 49ers will not draft another punter and/or long snapper, although with Trent Baalke at the helm, one never knows. Nevertheless, with no word on an extension for Phil Dawson, and the only kicker left on the 49ers roster was last years' undrafted free agent rookie Corey Acosta, it is possible the 49ers may look at a kicker this draft season.
Kicker prospects to watch:
PK01 *Roberto Aguayo, No. 19, 6000 - 207 lbs., 31 3/4" arms, 9 7/8" hands - Florida State
Roberto Aguayo, a junior, is one of the top kicking draft-eligible prospects in a very long time. Also known as, "Mr. Perfect", the former soccer player and 2013 Lou Groza Award Winner (Best Kicker) and All-American Honors in 2013, 2014, and 2015, is a perfectionist with a very strong work ethic and could very likely be a top 100 prospect. Aguayo is in a down year in comparison to years prior, currently kicking a field goal percentage of a meager 81%, where he was kicking at 90% in 2014 and 96% in 2013. For the first time in Aguayo's career, he has missed consecutive field goal attempts and has endured a slump during the season. If he is able to return to form, his confidence should help improve his game. Nevertheless, Aguayo is an exceptional talent with a clutch leg and pinpoint accuracy. Aguayo mentioned 49ers potential interest in his services during his press conference yesterday.
Draft Projection: 3rd
Aguayo's 2015 stats: 49/49 (100%) extra points made, and 21/26 (80.8%) field goals.
PK05 Ka'imi Fairbairn, No. 15, 5110 - 183 lbs., 31 3/4" arms, 9 1/4" hands - UCLA
Ka'imi Fairbairn was the 2015 Lou Groza Award winner in college football and displayed a very impressive strong and accurate leg throughout the 2015 season. He also became the all-time leading scorer for the Pac-12 Conference and UCLA in the 2015 season. The former high school soccer player and punter displays sound consistency and also has kicked with power succeeding in scoring a 60-yard field goal against Cal, which is the longest made field goal in college football since 2012. A Hawaiian native, Fairbairn's full names is John Christian Ka'iminoeauloameka'ikeokekumupa'a Fairbairn.
Draft Projection: 6th
Fairbairn's 2015 stats: 47/47 (100%) extra points made, and 20/24 (83.3%) field goals.
PK02 Brad Craddock, No. 15, 6000 - 186 lbs., 31" arms, 8 1/4" hands - Maryland (7th)
Maryland showcases one of the best kickers in college football in the Australian born Brad Craddock. The 2014 Lou Groza Award Winner for the best kicker in the nation, came to Maryland as a punter, but quickly transitioned over to kicker with the continuous aid and coaching of former Baltimore Raven's Pro Bowl kicker, Matt Stover. The former soccer, tennis, track, and Australian Rules football player has also shown versatility as a punter recently (initially what he was recruited as), where he has been utilized as a situational punter with his impressive pinpoint accuracy on directional punts. No doubt, the 49ers crave the versatility the Aussie bestows. Craddock dealt with injuries towards the end of the season, so durability will be addressed at the Combine.
Draft Projection: 7th
Craddock's 2015 stats: 22/23 (95.7%) extra points made, 8/10 (80%) field goals, and 9 punts for 328 yards averaging 36.4 yards.
* = indicates junior status