In Week 5 of the NFL season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers led the Carolina Panthers, 3-0, with 5:24 remaining in the second quarter. Rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo lined up for a 33-yard field goal – his first attempt under 40 yards in the NFL – and clanked it off the right upright at Bank of America Stadium.
It was the first time Aguayo had misfired on a field goal shorter than 40 yards since his prep career at South Lake High School in Groveland, Fla. Not ideal, but far from the end of the world, that is, if Aguayo hadn't also missed from 45 yards three weeks earlier against the Cardinals, and from 41 yards — plus an extra point — against the Rams two weeks before that.
This is a guy they called "Mr. Perfect".
Five and a half months before the missed 33-yarder against Carolina (and later a 46-yarder in the same game) the Bucs traded their third- and fourth-round selections to the Kansas City Chiefs for the 59th pick. They used it to make Florida State's Roberto Aguayo the first kicker taken in the first three rounds since Mike Nugent in 2005 (second round), and only the second since 2001 (along with 2004 third-rounder Nate Kaeding).
The Bucs' move was both aggressive and rare within the context of the last two decades. However, it wasn't unprecedented. The century started with the Oakland Raiders doing something that hadn't been done since the LBJ Administration. They passed on an heir apparent to 34-year-old quarterback Rich Gannon in Marshall's Chad Pennington and a slew of talented receivers for another Florida State kicker: Sebastian Janikowski.
Janikowski was a two-time All-American and a back-to-back winner of the Lou Groza Award as the nation's top kicker. He made 79.5 percent of his field goal attempts, 99.7 of his extra-point attempts and routinely boomed kickoffs through the endzone, a rarity in college football in the 1990s. He helped the Seminoles win the 1999 national championship. Actually, his resume looks a lot like Aguayo's:
|Florida State||College||Florida State|
|66/83 (79.5)||Field Goals Made/Attempted (Pct.)||69/78 (88.5)|
|126/129 (97.7)||PATs Made/Attempted (Pct.)||198/198 (100.0)|
|2 (1998-99)||All-America Selections||3 (2013-15)|
|2 (1998-99)||All-Conference Selections||3 (2013-15)|
|2 (1998-99)||Lou Groza Awards||1 (2013)|
|1 (1999)||BCS National Championships||1 (2013)|
The 6-foot-1, 250-pounder out of Poland by way of FSU missed his first career attempt, a 43-yarder against San Diego in Week 1. A week later he missed another one, and a third the following week before hitting both attempts in Week 4. But his righting-of-the-ship didn't last long; he missed four field goals over the next two weeks and three more during the regular season, resulting in putrid clip of 68.8 percent (22 of 32).
Al Davis was repeatedly admonished for his selection for Janikowski, with some calling for the longtime owner and general manager's resignation. One year later, those jeers turned to cheers as Davis' kicker transformed into one of the best in the league, hitting 82.1 percent of his attempts in 2001, 78.8 in 2002, 88 in 2003 and 89.3 in 2004.
After his nightmarish rookie season, Janikowski has hit at least 70 percent of his field goals in all but one of his 15 full seasons, and has topped 80 percent 10 times, including a 31-for-34 (91.2) masterpiece in 2012.
Sixteen years after a former Florida State star was *bleep*-ing the bed as an NFL rookie, another former Seminole is doing the same. Through seven games, Roberto Aguayo – only the second FSU kicker drafted since 2000 (Dustin Hopkins, 2013) – is 7-for-12 (58.3 percent), by far the worst of any qualified kicker (one attempt per game).
This is the same guy who was the most accurate kicker in college football history, hitting 96.7 percent of his attempts, including every attempt from inside 40 yards and all 198 PATs.
His most recent blunder, ironically, came against Janikowski and the Raiders in Week 8 when he missed a PAT in a game that went to overtime. Even more ironically, Janikowski also missed two field goals in the game (50, 52), his first game with two missed kicks since 2013, the same year Aguayo was crafting his legacy as a freshman in Tallahassee.
As Aguayo takes heat from all directions and likely kicks for his NFL life over his team's nine remaining games, impatient fans must remember another former Florida State prodigy who went from early-draftee goat to one of the greatest of all time.