Raiders May Have a New Starting Kicker in 2020

Las Vegas Raiders’ kicker Daniel Carlson partook in many underwhelming performances in 2019. After a strong 2018 campaign with the Silver and Black, his inconsistency last season is a potential cause for concern moving forward.

A 2020 undrafted free agent may spell writing on the wall for the Raiders incumbent placekicker.

Youthful Promise

Carlson’s path to becoming a Raider was relatively unique. The Vikings originally selected him in the fifth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. At the moment, the Vikings believed they couldn’t pass up on the highly touted Auburn Tiger.

Carlson managed to kick a perfect game, as he converted all six field goals and led Auburn to an upset victory over their SEC rival. However, his collegiate success was quickly forgotten during his rookie NFL season.

Minnesota Nightmare

After a perfect debut for Minnesota in 2018’s Week 1, Carlson had one of the worst kicking performances ever in the following week.

Carlson attempted two other field goals that day and did not convert either of them. He had yet another chance to redeem himself. Nonetheless, his efforts were futile as the meeting between the two long time NFC North rivals resulted in a tie. Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer did not spare the kicker any sympathy when they released him the next day.

Six weeks later, the Colorado native found a new home in Oakland, California with the Raiders. As a member of the Silver and Black in 2018, he only missed one field goal (out of 17 attempted) and converted 100% of his PAT’s. More important than the stats, he had a clutch kick that lifted the Raiders to victory on the road against the Arizona Cardinals.

Due to his overwhelming success, the team believed that they had found their kicker of the future by season’s end.

“Yeah, he is the real deal. He was a pretty high draft kick for a place-kicker. He had his struggles in Minnesota, but he has found his rhythm here and hopefully he is a long-term solution for us.” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden via Las Vegas Review Journal

However, all kicking rhythm was lost in the following season.

Related: A Look Back at Raiders 2019 Undrafted Free Agent Class

2019 Trouble

Daniel Carlson’s second season with the Raiders was not as kind to him as the end of 2018 was. 2019 showed inconsistency throughout the entire season.

It is one thing to miss a field goal by a few inches, but it is another to miss laterally by half the distance you are kicking from. Carlson went 19 of 26 on his field goals attempted last season making for a 73.1% conversion. That placed him 26th in the NFL amongst 32 placekickers. His longest converted kick was also only from 48 yards out, which gave him the 29th lowest distance made for all NFL kickers. Last but not least, he did miss two PAT’s in 2019 as well. His underwhelming performances were not overlooked, as the team opted to sign an undrafted free agent kicker this offseason.

Dominik Eberle – Utah State Aggies

Photo by Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

Las Vegas quickly scooped up Utah State football’s all-time leading scorer as an undrafted free agent last month. Dominik Eberle is only one of three kickers in NCAA football history that has successfully converted on three 50+ yard field goals in one game. In addition, out of 167 PAT’s Dominik did not miss a single one throughout his four-year tenure with the Aggies. The German native’s accuracy (79% in college) and leg power will give Carlson a bona fide challenge in training camp for the team’s kicking role in 2020.

In Review

The Las Vegas Raiders have formulated an environment where no roster spot is based on anything other than one’s ardor and hard work. It is a welcome sign of a team that is genuinely seeking to improve as they enter a new era in the desert. The Silver and Black’s front office is leaving no stone unturned in finding ways to upgrade the roster.

From the quarterbacks to the kicker, each position on the opening day roster will be earned. For Carlson, the organization has given him fair warning to be prepared. Former punter Johnny Townsend didn’t heed the warning last season and lost his job to undrafted free agent A.J. Cole. It should not surprise anyone if an eerily similar situation occurs at the kicker position with Dominik Eberle.

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Top Photo: Tim Ireland/Associated Press

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