When is it too early to take a kicker in the NFL Draft? Most people would say the 47th pick is too early. I do not totally agree. So many games come down to field goals that solidifying the kicker position for a decade might be worth it. Adam Vinateri was pretty valuable to the Patriots. The thing is any team taking a kicker that early better be getting a Vinateri caliber kicker.
The Jets were smarting from the Doug Brien disaster in the Divisional Playoffs in Pittsburgh a few months earlier. They grabbed a guy considered the top kicking prospect in some time, Ohio State's Mike Nugent, who had a tremendously accurate college career.
Nugent did not do the job for the Jets. He was the kicker for three seasons. In his second campaign, he had a fantastic season. He hit 88.9% of his field goal tries. He missed a pair on top of an extra point in the first week of the season. Mike missed one field goal the rest of the season, and that was from over 50 yards away. He only had 2 touchbacks, but Mike Westhoff could scheme around a weak kickoff leg. The important thing was consistently putting 3 on the board when the Jets got him in range.
Nugent worked that offseason on strengthening his kickoff leg. Nobody could ever prove it, but it seemed to impact his accuracy adversely. He missed 7 kicks on the year. Perhaps the best embodiment of this, though, was his Week 1 line drive that drove Ellis Hobbs 8 yards deep into the end zone. Hobbs was able to run it out despite how deep it was and ran it for a 108 yard touchdown.
Nugent's 2008 campaign was short. He injured his quadriceps in the opener trying an extra point. This left the Jets without a kicker for the rest of the game, which oddly helped them win as Brett Favre hit a prayer touchdown pass to Chansi Stuckey on a fourth down at a spot on the field where the team probably would have tried a field goal with a healthy kicker. The Jets signed Jay Feely to temporarily replace Nugent, but Feely kicked so well that Nugent stayed on the sidelines even after he healed. After the season, Gang Green kept Feely and let Nugent walk.
Since then, Mike has bounced around on stints with Tampa Bay, Arizona, and Cincinnati. A second round specialist who lasts three years is a painful bust. Adding insult to injury, the Jets got the pick used to take him by trading out of the first round. Terry Bradway thought he addressed the tight end position by adding Doug Jolley along with the second round pick. Had the team stayed put, it could have picked Heath Miller.
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