It does seem like, at some point, Roberto Aguayo could establish himself in the NFL and live up to all the pre-draft hype. Now he has another shot at it.
Aguayo, the kicker famously drafted in the second round of the 2016 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before being shown the door after just a season, has signed a futures contract with the Los Angeles Chargers. Aguayo didn’t appear in a game last season.
We know all the possible reasons why position players flame out in the NFL. Sometimes it’s due to injuries, or not fitting a team’s scheme well enough. Maybe it’s an off-field issue. Sometimes teams just miss. There are dozens of variables associated with scouting any offensive or defensive position. For quarterbacks, it’s probably hundreds of variables. It doesn’t make sense that teams could miss so badly on a kicker. You’d think you can ascertain everything you need to know about a kicker on film.
While the Bucs trading up (!) to draft Aguayo was clearly wrong, it’s not like Aguayo wasn’t a prime kicking prospect. He declared early for the draft out of Florida State, and it made perfect sense. He was universally viewed as the best kicking prospect since Sebastian Janikowski in 2000. The Buccaneers traded up because they were worried Aguayo wouldn’t make it to them in the third round. Aguayo was a two-time Lou Groza Award winner at FSU. He made 88.5 of his field-goal attempts and all 198 extra points. It seemed like it was an easy scout. He kicked the ball far and through the uprights. Even if the Buccaneers were reaching, it was hard to believe Aguayo wouldn’t be a good kicker. Just an expensive one. It’s hard to simply miss on a kicker that bad. There aren’t nearly as many variables to consider.
Perhaps the pressure was too much for Aguayo. He struggled right away in training camp as a rookie, and his draft status was always part of his story. He missed nine field goals and two extra points as a rookie. Before the 2017 season the Buccaneers cut their second-round pick from a year before. The Chicago Bears gave him a shot but he was cut at the end of preseason. The Carolina Panthers signed him to the practice squad, but cut him in December.
It’s still not hard to figure out why the Chargers would give him a shot. It has to perplex scouts that a kicker who looked so good on film in college couldn’t translate that to the NFL. That happens a lot at other positions, but kicker shouldn’t be that much of a crapshoot. Either you can kick it well or you can’t. Aguayo could, then suddenly he got to the NFL and couldn’t. It was strange.
Perhaps with the right coach or just a little more confidence, Aguayo will get his career going again. The Chargers are an interesting candidate to turn him around, considering their bad luck with kickers and close games the past few years. Perhaps playing for the Chargers, who have very few fans left after a move to Los Angeles that shouldn’t have happened, takes some of the pressure off.
If not, and Aguayo is destined to simply fade away after one bad season, he’ll end up as one of the most confusing bust stories in recent history.
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