The Buffalo Bills drafted Dustin Hopkins, K, out of Florida State in this years draft. Just about every year the Bills bring in kickers as undrafted free agents to take part in the training camp. This is the first time, that I can remember, and I might be wrong, that the Bills have drafted a kicker through the draft.
Rian Lindell has been with the Buffalo Bills since 2003 after kicking for the Seahawks for 3 years. We have seen the good and the bad from Lindell. I personally have not been a fan of Lindell and would have liked to see him gone for about two years now. His accuracy has begun to wane and he does not have the strongest leg. In 2011 he missed half of the season and it seems like his injuries have been increasing each year. In 2006 his accuracy was a 92%. His lowest since then, was a 76.2% in 2010. He finished last year with a 87.5%. With the Buffalo Bills his longest is a 56 yard field goal which is also his career longest which came in 2009.
Out of 47 kickoffs last year he ended up with 7 touch-backs and 40 returned for an average return of 22.0 yards. The highest out of any other year in his 13 years. I know that some of that can be put on the kickoff team and tackling but if the kicker is getting the ball deep, and getting it high enough for the team to get down the field, the likelihood that the return will be above 20 yards decreases exponentially.
Dustin Hopkins comes to the Buffalo Bills after being drafted at the 177th spot in the draft. Michael Husted, former NFL kicker and owner operator of Husted Kicking broke down Hopkins and the fit he will have with Buffalo. Husted commented on Hopkins moving himself apart from his draft class.
“You look at his percentage. I think he was just really, really consistent throughout is career. When you have a guy with a really strong leg and who can be consistent like him, they’re not a dime a dozen. You get a lot of guys with maybe a strong leg but not a good percentage, but teams are going to take a look at those guys because of the big leg. But Dustin brings a lot to the table. From what I understand he’s a big character guy, a good locker-room guy, a hard worker.
“You have to look at all those variables and, especially in a kicker, have someone who’s going to fit into the system and get along with everybody and do his job when it’s time.”
Husted also commented on what impact this will have on Lindell.
“It’s going to be a wide-open opportunity. You’ve always got to look at the salary-cap number. He’s going to have a high cap figure compared to Dustin. That’s going to be taken into consideration. I think it’s going to be a challenge for Lindell. The Bills aren’t going to waste a sixth-round pick just to take a look at a guy. Dustin’s going to have a legitimate shot to compete and earn a spot with the team.”
You can read the rest of the article and Husted’s comments here.
I believe that as long as Hopkins performs up to his stated potential, I believe that this is the end for Lindell. New staff and a new scheme will bring along new personnel, which is the dynamic that we have already begun to witness.