When you trade up into the second round to take a placekicker, you can’t miss. No pun intended.

While it is too soon to say if general manager Jason Licht kicked a game-winner, or clanked it off the left upright with the selection of Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft, special teams coach Nate Kaczor sees signs that point to Aguayo being up for the challenge of a bounce back season.

Bucs K Roberto Aguayo – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

“I would say like most second year players, he’s probably in a different place mentally from maturity and seeing what the NFL looks like under the covers, so to speak,” Kaczor said. “There’s a big learning curve for any pro athlete to come and go through their first year, particularly at a young age. I would just say, as a human being, as a football player, that he is in a different place in terms of maturity. Not saying that he’s mature yet, but obviously that’s a work in process. I think he is on the way to becoming a more mature football player, which usually helps development.”

Aguayo started his rookie campaign shaky, with early inconsistencies and struggles followed up by a solid stretch late in the season, minus the final game against the Panthers. One of the glaring stats in a season marred with frustration for Aguayo, the team and fans alike, was his inability to hit a field goal longer than 43 yards.

Kaczor said as a special teams coach with a struggling kicker,  you also have to be part time psychologist.

“I would say the blanket answer for that, in general as it is a general phenomenon, the fact that once you start a season, and I said this last year, messing with mechanics during the middle of a season is hard to do,” Kaczor said. “But coaching the mind, whether it’s a kicker, a quarterback, a guard, whatever, linebacker. Helping players play with confidence and playing within our scheme and developing schemes that can help them play fast and with confidence, that’s our job and part of our job. I would agree with your statement that we’re always working on the mind and trying to help our players with the game and the physical part.

“There’s always some mechanical fine tuning going on, that’s really obvious. But probably the last thing someone wants to think about when they’re working through some issues is mechanics. Like you said, a lot of times if you can just keep them in a good place mentally, that really helps. It never hurts to have them feel good about themselves.”

The Buccaneers aren’t afraid to cut their losses on struggling players. Of the big free agent signings in 2014, Licht’s first year on the job – tackle Anthony Collins, quarterback Josh McCown and defensive end Michael Johnson – all were released after just one season. Even draft picks aren’t safe as the Bucs gave up on tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, also a second rounder, after just over two years.

Kicker Nick Folk – Photo by: Getty Images

The Buccaneers would probably love nothing more than to see Aguayo come out in training camp and unequivocally lock down the job with a great preseason. But free agent aquisitio Nick Folk wasn’t brought in to just be camp fodder. Licht and the Glazers have already proven they won’t hold onto a player because of  just draft status or big free agency salary. Former Falcons coach Jerry Glanville coined the acronym for the NFL as – Not For Long – and it applies equally for players coaches and general managers. The Bucs want to win and win now, and won’t keep a player they don’t have 100 percent confidence in.

The good news is, by all early indications, Aguayo is better prepared for Year 2 in the NFL than he was as a rookie.

– Taylor Jennings contributed to this report

Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at [email protected]

20 COMMENTS

  1. I’m rooting for Aguayo, myself. I think that if the Bucs cut him, he has the potential to be that future great player for some other team. C’mon, Man!

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  2. I don’t even like soccer or as they say Futbol. lol. But this guy makes a point!

    “Competition helps people figure it out.” – Brian McBride, U.S. Soccer Player

    Hoping the kid gets it figured out. Go Bucs!

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  3. I don’t have any allegiance to the guy but I do hope he gets out of his head and becomes everything a second round KICKER should be. A HOF’er… but if not, I love the addition of a solid vet to step in.

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  4. I don’t have any allegiance to the guy but I do hope he gets out of his head and becomes everything a second round KICKER should be. A HOF’er… but if not, I love the addition of a solid vet to step in…

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  5. If aguayo doesn’t pan out, I don’t think it will be a pick that Licht clanked off the left upright, but more of one that he missed very wide left.

    I don’t really care if he figures it out, or if Folk just plain beats him out. I just want to be able to count on the ball going through the uprights for three whenever our offense stalls out. Much like in years past.

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  6. He’ll either bow up, or blow up. Like a good golfer, he’ll either drill all his putts on Sunday, or get a lasting case of the yips, and have no career. He also has a vet with a family to feed breathing down his neck. Be a strong story line on H.K.’s.

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  7. We all should be rooting for the youngster and not hoping he fails just to prove their agenda that Jason Licht isn’t a good GM.
    I still contend that when he clanked his very first kick in a real game it destroyed his confidence, which at FSU was a strength. Needs to get his mojo back.

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    • I’m with you. i want him to succeed.

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    • Scu, this guy misses one kick and his confidence is shot????? Doesn’t say much for his makeup. Good kickers can put that miss behind them. I don’t think his mojo is there to recover. What if he misses his first kick again?? He goes down the drain again??
      Just sayin………….

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      • He’s a kid his first day on the job.

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    • Honestly, whether or not he pans out is irrelevant to whether or not it was a good pick. It was a TERRIBLE pick, because history has shown that success kicking in college =/= success kicking in the NFL, and basically ALL good kickers, with one or two exceptions, were found with either 7th round picks or as UDFAs. It was a bad pick specifically because there are guys like Nick Folk, who has made 87%+ of his kicks in two of his last four seasons, just sitting around waiting for a phone call. It just ISN’T difficult to find good or better kickers with very low value assets, and we spent a 2nd round pick on a kicker. THAT’S why the pick was awful – because the process, the thought process, was awful.

      Aguayo is here. I like the kid a lot. I hope 100% that he not only is capable, but turns out great. It won’t make the pick good (it would still be a shockingly dumb move), but at least then we have a good, young kicker, something we don’t currently have. He’s a Buc, and I’ll be cheering my brains out for him. If he can’t do the job, though, then Licht needs to show the same ability he’s shown before – the willingness to move on from a mistake rather than hurt the team while trying to prove himself right. I’m really glad Folk is here, as that’s clearly a step in that direction.

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      • Have to agree. We got Folk for an ice-cream cone. Imagine if we dangled that 2nd round pick around the league – we would just about had our pick of the top kickers. Kickers who had been under fire and proven themselves the best in the league. This was a mistake and I don’t think it makes Licht a bad GM…just a bad judge of kicking ability.

        Instead of trading for a proven commodity, we let Monty Hall talk us into door number 2 and the Zonk prize.

        Maybe he’ll get his bad mechanics fixed…you know, like Tim Tebow did. I discussed specifically what the issue is in an earlier post so won’t beat that horse any further.

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  8. At least the kid was showing that he was working hard to try to fix things. I have no idea why he wouldn’t take up the offer from (I believe it was Adam Vinatieri) to help him work out the mental side of things. I loved the addition of Nick Folk and I’m pulling for the best man to win, but competition is not only necessary, it should also bring out the best in both which only benefits the team. Folk’s cold weather experience can prove beneficial in a Dec.3 game in Green Bay, and more importantly in the playoffs at a potential cold weather site (possibly Green Bay again).

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  9. He was a damn good kicker in college but that means nothing now.

    Pulling for the guy but I’d say he’s fighting for his NFL career after last seasons production…

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  10. It’s not just misses. He needs distance. Very hard to see him winning this battle and it turning out well.

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  11. Wishing Roberto the best! Whether we armchair GMs agree with the trade up for a kicker or not, the fact is it happened and can’t be undone. I’d much rather see Aguayo get it together and become a future hall of famer than have him be beaten out by Folk and all Bucs fans should feel the same way in my humble opinion.

    That said, I like that the staff isn’t afraid to cut their losses and go with the best available option. Worst case, Aguayo is still eligible for the practice squad in case we decide Folk is the best NOW option but there’s still a chance Aguayo can become our FUTURE option.

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    • All of this.

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  12. Best for Bucs if he works out and hope he does. That being said I don’t think he will. Just gut feeling.

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  13. I want him to succeed also, but bucs have a history of reaching for players and trading up when they should just sit tight. He would have fallen to them in the 3rd or 4th. We love to throw away picks on marginal players in Tampa. Hopefully that won’t be the case with our 3rd and 7th round picks this year.

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  14. This guy is a head case and has no ability to make kicks beyond 40 yards, and he was the worst in the league even though they didn’t allow him to even try longer kicks after he showed us he can’t hit the broadside of a barn.

    Being a fan since there was a Bucs team I’ve seen us go through and waste too much time on guys like him. Think about this – enough games were lost because of him that we did not make the playoffs. His misses were not even tough kicks by pro standards.

    If our GM doesn’t have at least 3 other kickers in camp, be willing to cut him and just man up and admit it was a boneheaded choice he is making a major mistake – The kind that can get you fired.

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