With the 167th pick in the 2018 draft, Daniel Carlson became the first kicker selected. The Vikings picked the former three-time all SEC first teamer out of Auburn. One of just two along with the Dolphins’ Jason Sanders. And after week two, Carlson became the first 2018 rookie kicker to be cut.
Carlson missed three field goals for the Vikings in a 29-29 tie with the division rival Packers. The next day, he was cut.
It would take six weeks for Carlson to find a new home. The Raiders lost their third kicker of the season and signed Carlson off the street.
Honestly, it’s hard to believe another team hadn’t given Carlson a shot before that with his resume and draft position.
Carlson’s second game, he had his first kick. It was a 37-yard attempt which he made. Not a long field goal, but after his 3 misses that got him cut, it was probably a big monkey off his back. He would miss his next kick off the right upright from 45 yards out, which probably was a bit of a ‘here we go again’ moment.
He hasn’t missed since.
Carlson is riding a streak of hitting 12 straight field goals, including two from 50 yards out.
Sunday in Cincinnati, Carlson was 3 for 3 with a 50-yard field goal. The second time since joining the Raiders that he’s had a 3-field-goal game. Quite a turnaround from his 0 for 3 performance that got him sent out of Minnesota on a rail.
This game brings his season total for 13 for 14. That’s a 92.8% accuracy, which, if the season ended today, would be a new franchise record accuracy percentage, surpassing the 91.2% record set by Sebastian Janikowski in 2012.
His 13 made field goals is already second in franchise history for more rookie field goals. Janikowski has the record of 22, which Carlson is not likely to catch with just two games remaining.
“He’s been a real bright spot for us,” Gruden said after the team’s loss to the Bengals Sunday. “Hopefully, as I said a few weeks ago, he’s the long term solution here for the next several years. You get a kicker, he’s going to be your leading scorer every year and to get a guy like this that can kick off and make long range field goals, and critical field goals is exciting.”
Prior to this season, it was undrafted rookie Eddy Pineiro who they hoped would be the long term answer. He and Johnny Townsend played at Florida together, where Townsend was his holder. That gave Pineiro an advantage as Townsend was the Raiders’ pick late in the 5th round, just six spots after Carlson.
Since then Pineiro was lost to an injury, Townsend has been the worst punter int the NFL, leading to the possibility that neither of their expected rookie legs could be the future in Oakland.
A 3-win team starting a major rebuild needs all the bright spots they can get.