Last week the Jets added kicker Sergio Castillo to their active roster and he’s played for them in the last two games, so we’re going to take an in-depth look at his strengths and weaknesses.
The 30-year old is listed at 5’11” and 195 pounds and was undrafted out of West Texas A&M in 2013. Castillo had never played in an NFL game before making his debut with the Jets against the Bills two weeks ago.
Castillo was an excellent kicker and punter in high school but the only college program that recruited him was West Texas A&M. In four years with the Buffaloes, he was a four-time Lonestar Conference selection and won the Fred Mitchell Award as the best kicker in the nation after his senior year.
He made 80 percent of his field goals and 98 percent of his field goals and also punted and occasionally kicked off during his college career.
After going undrafted, Castillo was with the Atlanta Falcons in training camp but was released despite making both of his preseason field goal attempts. He spent the next several years trying to get back into the NFL.
Castillo’s first stop was the CFL, where he was a late season addition for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2015. He made all five of his field goal attempts, including a game-winner, in his first game, but missed three of his eight kicks the rest of the way.
He didn’t get to play for the Blue Bombers in 2016 and was eventually released, but he was picked up in the middle of the season to punt for the Ottawa Redblacks for a couple of weeks.
In 2017, he moved to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and was their full-time kicker and punter. He made 29 of 34 field goals, missed just one of his 21 extra points and averaged over 45 yards per punt but suffered a serious knee injury near the end of the season.
After not kicking for anyone in 2018, Castillo made 41 of 45 field goals for the BC Lions in 2019 and was named as a CFL all-star.
Castillo got a chance to kick for the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks earlier this year, but he missed four of his six field goal attempts from beyond 40 yards, ending up 5-for-9 overall.
He has also been a member of the San Antonio Commanders of the AAF but did not kick for them.
Castillo joined the Jets’ practice squad recently and was called up to kick for the injured Sam Ficken in the last two games. He’s made four of his five field goal attempts, with the only miss being on a kick that was blocked.
Now let’s break down Castillo in more detail, divided into categories:
Castillo’s accuracy has been very good. He hit the benchmark of 80 percent in college and has a career percentage of 87 percent in the CFL. He doesn’t qualify for the CFL record books because you need 100 attempts and he only has 80, but his percentage is better than the all-time record holder.
However, his lack of success in his XFL stint was certainly concerning. As noted, he made five out of nine kicks, but was only 2-for-6 from beyond 40 yards.
Castillo’s extra points have also been solid, as he made 98 percent in college and 92 percent at the CFL level.
Castillo impressed in his second game with the Jets by nailing this 55-yarder, although he has beaten this in the past.
In college, Castillo made a 56-yarder. In Canada, he made a 57-yarder. However, his longest ever field goal was a 58-yarder while he was still in high school. That came in a playoff game.
Castillo has kicked and had good success in Canada so while there is limited data on his ability to kick in cold or bad weather conditions, this probably isn’t a concern.
Castillo’s first ever CFL game saw him step up and nail this game-winner so he can deliver in clutch situations.
He also had a game-winner in 2019 but this one was somewhat unconventional. Castillo actually missed the field goal, but it went out of the back of the end zone which, under CFL rules, gives the kicking team one point.
Had the return man been able to field the ball without stepping out of the end zone, he would have been able to send the game into overtime which he could have done either by running the ball or even by kicking it.
As you may have noticed, Castillo hasn’t been kicking off for the Jets as Braden Mann has taken over those duties since Ficken’s injury.
There isn’t much data on Castillo’s kickoffs anyway. He only ever had the role part-time in college and the XFL - where he had one touchback on 31 kicks - used completely different rules.
As noted, Castillo has also been a punter. He usually averaged around 45 yards gross but his net average in Canada was only 34.1 yards. They have bigger fields and more returns due to the no-yards rule, though.
In his first game with the Ottawa Redblacks, Castillo launched this incredible punt which ended up rolling through the end zone for another one-point score. This ended up as a 90-yarder and actually rolled another five yards beyond the end zone.
Castillo is small and doesn’t contribute much as a tackler. He had just one tackle in college and tore the ACL on his plant leg attempting to make a tackle in 2017.
He is apparently a laid-back character who is popular with his teammates and has worked as a motivational speaker.
By the time you read this, Ficken might have been reinserted as the number one kicker and Castillo could find himself released back to the practice squad.
It’s unlikely the Jets release him altogether though, because he’s done well enough to warrant another chance if Ficken falters or gets hurt again. The Jets might even opt to stick with Castillo, who knows?
He had certainly fared well enough so far that he’s probably earned himself at worst a shot at competing for a job somewhere in 2021.