How Good Can Daniel Carlson Be?

The Vikings signed their new rookie kicker this week, basically inking the departure of Kai Forbath and setting a tone for a younger special teams movement in the twin cities. With Carlson being added to the mix, the kicking team consisting of McDermott, Quigley, and Carlson will average the age of 26.6. Three and half years younger than Forbath.

 Per Rotoworld.com:

Vikings signed fifth-round K Daniel Carlson, sixth-round OG Colby Gossett, sixth-round DE Ade Aruna and seventh-round LB Devante Downs to four-year contracts.

The Vikings are getting ahead of the game with getting their draft picks locked up. The Vikes traded up for Carlson. Any time you trade up for a kicker, you expect them to be your starter.
 
Carlson being added definitely raised some eyebrows in Viking land, as the addition of Kai Forbath looked to be a pretty solid move after the Blair Walsh debacle. But hey, in Rick Spielman’s world, no player is safe.
I was curious how Carlson’s stats compared to top-notch kickers’ college careers so I pulled some numbers. The two kickers’ analytics I chose to compare are Justin Tucker and Jake Elliot.
 
Tucker is chosen for obvious reasons but I wanted to pull Elliot as well, being that he was thrown into the new kicking era and won a super bowl during his rookie year.
 
So, let’s first look at Carlson’s statistics in his four years at Auburn:
 

Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 9.30.05 AM

The numbers that stand out are the 100 XP% and his Junior Year FG% of 87.5. What is a little startling though is his drop from Jr to Sr year; he went from making 28 field goals out of 32 to just 23 out of 31. His freshman and senior year FG percentage could be a concern, but his coaches put him out on the field A LOT which means they had confidence in him.

Here are some notes from AuburnTigers.com:

2017: SEC record 198 consecutive PAT made and 92 career FG made … 13-21 in 50+-yd FG for career, second-best percentage on 50+ kicks in NCAA history … holds NCAA record with 7 games making 4 or more FG … 2-4 on FG against GSU with makes of 50 and 37 … 2-2 FG at Clemson … FG of 56, 52 and 41 at Missouri; first Auburn game with 2 50+ FG since 1987 … 14 points scored vs. Ole Miss (5-5 PAT, 3-3 FG) … 3-3 FG, 2-2 PAT at LSU … 1-1 FG, 7-7 PAT at Arkansas … 2 blocked FG at Texas A&M … 4-4 FG, 4-4 PAT vs. Georgia

2016: holds Auburn’s single-season record for points kicking 128 … nation’s second-best 57-72 touchbacks (79.2%) … his 28 made field goals in 2016 are third in SEC history … ranks seventh in SEC history with 32 field goal attempts in 2016 … 53-yard FG against Clemson is the 11th longest in FBS this season … scored 21 points against Arkansas State: 3-3 FG, 6-6 PAT and a 20-yard rushing TD on a fake field goal … FG, PAT vs. Texas A&M … tied Auburn and SEC record with six FG against LSU, with a long of 51 yds … 7-7 PAT but had a FG blocked vs. ULM … 25-yd FG, five PAT at Mississippi State … four FG, four PAT at Ole Miss … 3-4 FG vs. Vanderbilt with one blocked; connected from 53, 45, 33 yards … four field goals at Alabama … two field goals made in the Sugar Bowl against Oklahoma

 
Let’s compare Tucker who only kicked during his Jr and Sr year:
 
Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 9.40.08 AM
Tucker also boosted perfect XP numbers but had MUCH smaller FG attempt numbers. The two players had similar Junior Years in their percentage stats but Carlson carried a much heavier load. Compare Carlson’s 44 extra points compared with Tucker’s 27. Carlson also kicked for a field goal 10 more times than Tucker in his Senior Year. That makes the data a bit skewed. Carlson could have easily matched Tucker’s senior year FG% if he only had to kick the ball 21 times vs. 31. 
 
Let’s take a look at Jake Elliot’s:
Screen Shot 2018-05-04 at 11.43.12 AM.png

It is worth noting that Elliot and Carlson were taken at very similar positions in the draft. Elliot had a terrific college career, and his rookie campaign with the Eagles was instrumental in their Super Bowl run. Again, a 100% XP percentage and a whopping 63 attempts and completes his Junior Year. Carlson, his freshmen year, was responsible for 111 of Auburn’s points comparing to Elliot’s 72. To me, it seems Elliot had a better Sophomore and Senior year while Carlson had a better Freshmen and Junior show.

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I think Carlson can be a sneaky good pick in fantasy leagues, too. We’ll have to keep an eye on what the Vikings decide to do with Forbath. I would predict Carlson to have a very similar rookie year to Elliot. The interesting thing is that Forbath had a great year kicking field goals but he missed 5 extra points (which seemed to drive Mike Zimmer crazy). Elliot had a similar FG% last year but made 93% of his extra points. If Carlson can patch that hole up, along with being cheap and young, it will be a good move for the purple.

 

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