Matthew Stevens , Montgomery Advertiser
AUBURN –Daniel Carlson will be monitoring the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Auburn kicker, who is entering his junior season, will be highly interested in where Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo will be drafted this month.
Aguayo, who was the 2014 Lou Groza Award winner as a redshirt freshman, was the first kicker in 16 years to forgo his senior season and enter the draft early after Florida State announced his decision in January. Aguayo was first college kicker to make this decision since fellow FSU alum Sebastian Janikowski did so prior to the 2000 NFL Draft.
“Florida State had a really good kicker and he left early this year,” Carlson said on Saturday. “I’m going to be kind of watching to see what happens with that.”
Carlson said he’s ‘considering it’ when asked about a possible NFL career as a kicker and it was unclear by his answers if he’s considering an NFL career after his four-year Auburn career is over or if he’s considering leaving Auburn early after this upcoming 2016 season. The 2015 Lou Groza Award finalist did say he intended to ‘have a solid four years’ at Auburn and has contemplated a possible MBA in that fourth year with the Tigers program but Carlson could also be a highly coveted asset if he repeats a performance similar to his sophomore season.
Carlson set a pair of school records in his sophomore season including connecting on his fourth kick of the season from beyond 50 yards to break John Riley’s 43-year-old mark at Auburn. Carlson also made 16 straight field goals to break a school record, which was snapped during the Iron Bowl loss to No. 2 Alabama. Carlson converted 22 of his 26 field goal attempts this season and he was the only Auburn player to be named to the All-Southeastern Conference first team earlier this week.
“As far as we’re concerned, what he did for us this year was unbelievable,” Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said during the Birmingham Bowl media conference. “When you think about the pressure kicks that he made…and then the kickoffs that go into the end zone and everything that goes with that, he’s one of the best.”
Carlson is set to graduate this summer and will have his bachelor’s degree before his college eligibility is over so leaving Auburn after his junior season wouldn’t hurt his ability to obtain a college degree.
“Hopefully break some records along the way, you never know,” Carlson said. “I’m really enjoying it here.”
Good kickers are becoming more and more in demand after a 2015 NFL season that included a record amount of misses on extra points following new rules pushed the line of scrimmage from the 2-yard line to the 15-yard line. Kickers missed a combined 71 extra points in 2015 after missing just 37 in the five years prior combined.
Last year, Bradley Pinion of the San Francisco 49ers was the only punter drafted after he declared early from Clemson for the 2015 NFL Draft. Two years earlier, punter Brad Wingleft LSU early and went undrafted in the 2013 NFL Draft but is signed with the New York Giants.