We continue our Post-Senior Bowl, Pre-NFL Combine, breakdown of the top 5 prospects at each position. Over the past couple of weeks we highlighted several positions. Today we take a look at the kicker position.
Going into the 2017 season, the 49ers have one kicker under contract in Nick Rose. Under the management of former 49ers assistant GM Tom Gamble, Rose was signed to a Reserve/Future contract last month. As for Phil Dawson, the savvy and admired veteran is scheduled to be a free agent, and although retirement has been kicked around in regard to Uncle Phil, it looks like he's ready to come back for season No. 19. We will have to wait and see if the new 49ers regime decides to take on the gritty veteran for another year or go in another direction.
Outside of Dawson, free agency is definitely a possibility to bring in new blood. Some potential names thrown around such as Steven Hauschka, Greg Zuerlein, Robbie Gould, and Nick Novak among others are a few of the potential free agents that may want to join the John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan show. However, it's the new crop of a rookie kickers' class poised to make their marks in the NFL, where the 49ers will likely do their due diligence in combing through the prospects determining if one of these kickers can become the difference maker on special teams. I highlight the top 5 kickers in play.
K Zane Gonzalez, No. 5, 6'1" - 195 lbs., 4.91 40 - (5th-6th) - Arizona State
Gonzalez's 2016 season stats: Completed 39-of-40 extra points for a 97.5% extra point percentage. Completed 23-of-25 field goals for a 92.0% field goal percentage.
K Zane Gonzalez was the recipient of the Lou Groza Award (best place-kicker award) after an exemplary senior year. The senior is the all-time FBS leader in field goals made (96) and points (494) by a kicker. In 2016, the unanimous All-American was 5-of-5 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 5-of-5 on field goals from 30-39 yards, 6-of-6 on field goals from 40-49 yards, and 7-of-9 on field goals 50 yards plus. Gonzalez's longest field goal made in the season was from 59 yards out. Gonzalez attended the Senior Bowl and was 3-of-3 on field goals with kicks from 22, 29, and 39 yards in the game. He also had a lone kickoff for 65 yard
Round Projection: 5th-6th
K Jake Elliott, No. 46, 5'9" - 165 lbs., 4.82 40 - (6th) - Memphis
Elliot's 2016 season stats: Completed 58-of-58 extra points for a 100% extra point percentage. Completed 21-of-26 field goals for a 80.8% field goal percentage.
K Jake Elliott is known in the Lou Groza Award community after being named at least a semifinalist for the award all four seasons of his collegiate career - always a bridesmaid thing going for him. Nevertheless, the consistent kicker boasts an impressive extra point field goal career percentage of 100% completing a combined 202-of-202 in four years. In 2016, the three time All-American Athletic Conference recipient (2013, 2014, 2015) was 1-of-1 on field goals from 1-19 yards, 3-of-3 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 5-of-7 on field goals from 30-39 yards, 10-of-12 on field goals from 40-49 yards, and 2-of-3 on field goals 50 yards plus - 50 yards being his longest of the season. Elliot's longest field goal was 56 yards in 2013 at USF, and his career kickoff yardage average is 63.7 yards. Elliott attended the Senior Bowl and was 1-for-1 on field goals with a 37-yard kick.
Round Projection: 6th
P/K Austin Rehkow, No. 5, 6'3" - 208 lbs., 4.84 40 - (6th) - Idaho
Rehkow's 2016 kicking season stats: Completed 42-of-44 extra points for a 95.5% extra point percentage. Completed 26-of-29 field goals for a 89.7% field goal percentage.
P/K Austin Rehkow is the perfect special team prospect if you are looking for - killing two birds with one stone - as he is one of just three players nationally who kicked and punted for their team. The top punter prospect in this years' draft class and Ray Guy Award finalist in 2014, Rehkow had 56 punts for a total of 2,332 yards with a punting average of 41.6% and a career of 81 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. As a kicker in 2016, the Lou Groza Award semifinalist (2015) was 1-of-1 on field goals from 1-19 yards, 9-of-9 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 8-of-9 on field goals from 30-39 yards, 7-of-9 on field goals from 40-49 yards, and 1-of-1 on field goals 50 yards plus - 50 yards being his longest of the season. Rehkow's longest collegiate field goal is 50 yards; however, in high school he set a state record in Washington with a 67-yard field goal. His career kickoff yardage average is 60.5 yards. Rehkow attended the East-West Shrine game and punted six times for 46.8 yard average with two punts inside the 20-yard line. Had a 65-yard kickoff for touchback, and was 1-of-2 on field goals missing a 22-yard attempt and connecting on a 27-yard attempt.
Round Projection: 6th
K Adam Griffith, No. 99, 5'10" - 192 lbs., 4.87 40 - (7th-UDFA) - Alabama
Griffith's 2016 season stats: Completed 66-of-67 extra points for a 98.5% extra point percentage. Completed 21-of-28 field goals for a 75.0% field goal percentage.
K Adam Griffith entered Alabama as one of the nation's top kickers in high school ranking No. 1 by 247 Sports and Scout with Rivals ranking him No. 2 nationally. The Crimson Tide's all-time career leader for extra points (186) was 10-of-11 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 8-of-10 on field goals from 30-39 yards, 3-of-7 on field goals from 40-49 yards - 48 yards being his longest of the season. Growing up in an orphanage in Poland, Griffith (originally named Andrzej Debowski) switched his name when he was adopted by American parents and moved to the United States at the age of 13. After kicking the soccer ball around at four different orphanages in Poland, Griffith picked up the game of football in the 8th grade and shortly thereafter received a scholarship to Alabama his sophomore year in high school.
Round Projection: 7th-UDFA
K Conrad Ukropina, No. 34, 6'0" - 194 lbs., 4.92 40 - (7th-UFA) - Stanford
Ukropina's 2016 season stats: Completed 34-of-34 extra points for a 100% extra point percentage. Completed 22-of-27 field goals for a 81.5% field goal percentage.
K Conrad Ukropina is an All-Pac 12 honorable mention as an athlete and in academics. The former high school soccer star holds Stanford's record for career consecutive made extra points (108) and for best field goal percentage (.824). In 2016, the Lou Groza Award semifinalist (2015) was 6-of-6 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 6-of-7 on field goals from 30-39 yards, 8-of-12 on field goals from 40-49 yards, and 2-of-2 on field goals 50 yards plus - 52 yards being his longest of the season. An Eagle Scout and former walk-on, Ukropina's longest field goal is 52 yards.
Round Projection: 7th-UDFA
Stats courtesy of College Football at Sports Reference, team pages, and 40 times are projections.