Miami Dolphins kicker Dan Carpenter missed a few field goals in 2012 that heavily contributed to at least a pair of losses. That was apparently not lost on the management. This offseason we saw rumors at one point or another that guys like David Akers, Billy Cundiff, Jason Hanson, Steven Hauschka, Shayne Graham, Ryan Longwell, and even ex-Phins like Olindo Mare and Nate Kaeding could be brought in to challenge for the job. It made sense to think if Miami was going to bring in competition for Carp it would be through free-agency seeing as the organization last drafted a kicker waaaay back in 1989 (Pete Stoyanovich… Joe Nedney was a 1996 rookie for the ‘Phins, but he was undrafted). The veteran free-agent did not happen, instead Miami kept it in-state and drafted Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis.
I had the pleasure of interviewing NFL legend Jerry Glanville as the 2013 draft wrapped up, and he was loving Sturgis. Glanville coached the 23 year old (24 when the season starts) in January when Glanville was his East coach in the East-West Shrine Game, and he insisted that I ask him about Sturgis in the interview (as if I would let my fellow ‘Phins phans down!). Below is the link to my full NFL Draft show, and the interview with Glanville starts just before 28 minute mark. Glanville raving about Sturgis is at the 47 minute mark.
In college Sturgis made impressive field goals (he has a big leg) as a sophomore, a junior, and senior. Overall he went 70 for 88, and what I love is he was 12 for 13 in losses so he missed a measly one kick in losses which is over his entire college career (Carp in 2012 a much different story). As you will hear in the Glanville interview, he loves Sturgis’s ability to kick long FGs, plus he spoke about the kicker’s ability to be effective on kickoffs as a guy who can create touchbacks regularly.
Another aspect I really like is Sturgis went 37 for 43 for FGs on the road so he hardily requires great weather and a comfortable situation to be effective. In 2012 he went eight for nine from 40+ yards (three for three from 50+) and as a Gator he was a Lou Groza Award (given annually to top college placekicker by the Palm Beach County Sports Commission) semifinalist one time (2010) and was a finalist twice (2011, 2012).
If Sturgis can simply continue on his impressive path then Carpenter will likely have to at least restructure his contract (only Sebastian Janikowski and Phil Dawson will cost their teams more in 2013) and the fifth round pick could end up overtaking Carpenter on the depth chart. Clearly that would mean Carp and his $2.7 million would be released.
Carpenter did not come through as often as he should have given his skills, but he will be a tough out if Miami is looking to replace him as he will battle. It does look like if anyone can supplant Carp it is Sturgis. Either way the team should be in a solid spot as far as their kicking game goes.