After years of being spoiled with excellent kicking thanks to Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski, the Patriots are starting anew at the position in 2020.
The year 2020 promises to be a big year of change for the New England Patriots.
Obviously, the biggest and most notable difference between last year and this year will be at the quarterback position. You may have heard something about somebody named Tom moving on after a long time with the team. It was kind of a big deal.
Outside of that, however, there are plenty of other major changes around the team. The current world pandemic is affecting the entire sports landscape and that certainly includes the NFL. As a result, no one’s sure exactly what training camps and the preseason will look like this summer — let alone the regular season.
Many people believe there will still be a season no matter what. Many people also think there’s a good chance there won’t be any fans in the stands of stadiums though. It all remains to be seen.
One thing we do know for sure as it pertains specifically to the Patriots though is that the team will have a brand-new placekicker in 2020.
During the early days of the New England dynasty at the turn of the millennium, Adam Vinatieri came up clutch time after time — and often on the game’s greatest stages. The Patriots wouldn’t be where they are today at the top of the NFL’s Mount Olympus were it not for Vinatieri’s leg.
When Vinatieri left for the Colts, Stephen Gostkowski rose to the occasion and capably stepped in. “Gost” was there for the second part of the Patriots dynasty. When all was said and done, each player had earned three Super Bowl rings as a member of the New England Patriots (Vinatieri has a fourth with Indy too).
Who replaces these living legends now?
New England scuttled through a number of kicker castoffs in 2019. Kai Forbath and Mike Nugent were both dreadful. A number of other free agents didn’t even get a phone call.
Ultimately, the Patriots rolled with Nick Folk. Folk was certainly serviceable and came through on all his extra point attempts. He even made a few long field goals when he needed to.
Overall though, it was clear that the Pats needed to find their next big thing at the position.
Enter 2020 fifth-round draft pick Justin Rohrwasser.
Best-case scenario projection for 2020
The best-case scenario projection for Rohrwasser this year is simple: he makes us all forget about the glaring issues New England had at kicker in 2019.
All he needs to do is be consistent and reliable. If he doesn’t hit all his 50+ attempts — or even his 40+ attempts — so be it. The kid is still just 23 years old.
He made almost 86% of his field goals last year during his senior season at Marshall. If he can help the Patriots hit that same percentage, they’d likely finish in the top-10 in the NFL when it comes to field goal conversions. (For reference, they ranked 19th last year after converting just under 80% of their attempts).
Worst-case scenario projection for 2020
Rohrwasser is absolutely terrible in 2020. He shows the level of play is too great for him and makes us all wonder why Bill Belichick burned a fifth-round pick on him when there were other rookie kicker prospects with more hype around the country coming out of college.
Rohrwasser also didn’t do himself any favors by getting a “Three Percenters” tattoo on his arm. He claims he didn’t understand what the symbol meant when he got it and has since pledged to have it removed, but being known for a controversial tattoo certainly isn’t the ideal first impression you want to make with your new fanbase.