The Buffalo Bills were not very happy with their kicking game last season. Rex Ryan made it known that Dan Carpenter’s job was not safe throughout the season, adding Billy Cundiff for a week of the season and repeatedly implying that Carpenter was on thin ice due to too many misses. The Bills may have found a capable replacement for Carpenter in Marshall Morgan, and I expect the undrafted rookie to take the job from Carpenter ahead of the 2016 NFL season.
Morgan’s stats on paper may not be all that impressive, but the fact of the matter is that he is a solid kicker. Morgan holds the SEC record for most consecutive field goals made with 19, and that record spanned through two seasons. In his junior and senior years at Georgia, Morgan went 34-of-46 on field goals, a roughly 74 percent mark, and made 105 of his 106 extra points. In all honesty, the latter stat may be more predictive of why Morgan could beat out Carpenter.
Last season, Carpenter had trouble making extra points. With the NFL making the extra point now the equivalent of a 32 or 33-yard field goal, Carpenter was unable to adjust well to the rule. He ended up missing a whopping six tries, which could cost the Bills if they end up in close games this season. He also missed four field goals which helped contribute to him having the lowest field goal percentage of his Bills career.
The biggest challenge for Morgan will be staying consistent. Morgan had minimal troubles with his consistency as a freshman and a sophomore, where he was making a lot of long field goals, but his final two years were a bit of a rough ride. It will be important for Morgan to build up his confidence. Once he does that, he will be able to really succeed as a kicker at the NFL level.
While Morgan may not necessarily be better than Carpenter now, he has more potential to grow while Carpenter’s career appears to have plateaued. If Morgan has a strong summer, Ryan will choose him over Carpenter and give the youngster a chance to be their franchise kicker.