The Tampa Bay Buccaneers made one of the most puzzling moves in the NFL Draft when they traded a third-round and fourth-round pick to move up to draft Florida State kicker Roberto Aguayo.
Aguayo, whose 96.73 conversation rate in college was the best ever, became just the fourth kicker to be drafted in the first two rounds of the draft in the last 25 years.
Unfortunately for Aguayo, his performance in training camp and the preseason isn’t making the Bucs’ decision look any smarter.
Through two preseason games, Aguayo has been a disappointment, missing his first-ever extra-point attempt in Week 1, then missing two field goals in Week 2, including a 32-yard attempt. The problem has gotten so bad that Aguayo told NFL writer Roy Cummings that he’s seeking help from the mental coach he worked with prior to the combine.
Aguayo also said he believes he’s overthinking things:
“At the end of the day you just have to go out there and kick the ball. You remember those times when you were young and in Pop Warner and it was just, kick the ball.
“I mean, so many athletes at times like this, they overthink things. ‘Am I doing this right? Am I doing that right?’ You focus too much on the detail and technique stuff instead of just kicking the ball. When you do that it’s not natural. It’s all forced. And by talking to my mental coach and all that, it just reminded me to just sit back, relax and let it go.”
However, as of Tuesday, the counseling hadn’t helped much.
ESPN’s Jenna Laine reported on Monday that the Bucs tried to test Aguayo’s mental state with a fun a drill. Nail a 50-yard field goal, and the team could leave the facility “a couple hours early.” Miss, and they had to keep training. Aguayo nailed it, much to the delight of him and his teammates.
Things are rough for Aguayo right now, as he appears to be dealing with the NFL’s equivalent of the yips. The pressure of being a prized kicker who was drafted high doesn’t help. Clearly, Aguayo has the skills to be an NFL kicker, but dealing with the burden of it may take some more adjustment than expected.
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