It seemed all week like something was up with the Patriots’ kicking situation. Turns out there is.
The first indications came Monday. This was the final note of Phil Perry’s practice report under the “who dropped?” section:
Justin Rohrwasser: He went 3-for-5 on his live 11-on-11 kicks at the end of the workout. Not a failed performance. Just not the cleanest he’s ever had, probably. He hooked his first kick wide left. After making his second, he pushed another wide right. He snuck his fourth kick inside the right upright and then banked in his fifth attempt off the left upright.
So Rohrwasser, a player not projected to be drafted, but taken in the fifth round ahead of higher-regarded kickers, started off not so hot. That would certainly be a story worth watching.
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Yet the story didn’t really continue, because nobody got another look at Rohrwasser in 11-on-11s the rest of the week. He also wasn’t kicking off, as those duties were split between Jake Bailey and a machine.
Minor alarms sounding.
Then on Friday, Scott Zolak mentioned on his radio show that Stephen Gostkowski had received contract offers from two teams — what Patriots legend hasn’t, amiright? — but that he was being picky.
Dots started to be connected.
The #Patriots are having free agent K Nick Folk in for a visit, and the plan is for him to sign Monday, source said. He’ll go through the protocol first.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 22, 2020
So either Rohrwasser is hurt or he isn’t that good. For his sake, you hope it’s a minor injury, but at any rate, it doesn’t look like throwing a draft pick at the kicking position has answered all its questions yet.
This was obviously a puzzling pick to begin with, considering Rohrwasser wasn’t even a consensus top-five kicking prospect, there were only three kickers drafted and Rohrwasser was the first selected.
His tattoo became a major story, as he had what he said he got as a pro-military tattoo that instead had ties to some troublesome stuff. He seemed embarrassed/remorseful after the draft and said he intended to have it removed.
But — and not to diminish that story, because it absolutely deserved attention — this isn’t about the tattoo. It’s about what at best appeared to be a weird draft pick that isn’t looking any better. Sure, it’s just the fifth round, and I absolutely believe in drafting special teamers, but what told the Patriots that going off the board was the move?
Stephen Gostkowski was either the best or one of the best kickers in the 2006 draft, depending on who you asked, when the Patriots took him in the fourth round. Zoltan Mesko was one of the top punting prospects in 2010. Bailey was the No. 1 punter prospect in the 2019 draft. Hell, Joe Cardona was the top-rated long snapper in the 2015 draft.
With positions like defensive linemen and receivers, there’s obviously a wide range of how different guys fit different systems, but… shouldn’t special teamers generally be chalk? If you need a kicker, you draft the guy who’s considered the best kicker, right? No?
So there was already reason to be curious about the Rohrwasser pick and whether the Patriots had sufficiently addressed their need at kicker, which *is* an important position. So far, it looks like they didn’t.