Sixth Round: 177th Pick
Rarely does selecting a kicker during the NFL draft create a splash, but even rarer is the kicker who enters a draft after rewriting most of the NCAA and ACC record books like Dustin Hopkins did at Florida State.
A four-year kicker for the Seminoles, Hopkins set a new FBS record for career scoring and ACC records for both scoring and made field goals. He now enters the 2013 NFL draft as the top kicker in the class.
While Florida State is still known more for its missed field goals than makes, Hopkins has a real chance to make a name for himself at the next level. Below, we run down what makes him such an intriguing kicking prospect.
|+ Consistent, reliable accuracy||- Missed two game-winning kicks|
|+ High kick trajectory||- Limited experience in cold weather|
|+ NFL-ready range ||- Weighs only 193 pounds|
|+ Above-average athlete|
Strong and consistent fundamentals allow Hopkins to possess NFL-ready kick power, both on field goals and kickoffs.
His range extends well past 55 yards, with a top length likely in the 58-60-yard range. His career long at Florida State was 56 yards. Over four seasons, Hopkins connected on nine kicks 50 yards or longer, including five in 2012 and at least one in each season.
His consistently high kick trajectory allows him to attempt long field goals without the threat of a block. In fact, Hopkins attempted 112 collegiate kicks but had zero blocked.
As a kickoff specialist, Hopkins created 137 touchbacks on 347 kickoffs (39.5 percent).
Hopkins improved his kick accuracy every season he was at Florida State. He made just 19 of 27 kicks his freshman year (70.4 percent), but his accuracy was up to 83.3 percent (25 of 30) by his senior season.
Overall, Hopkins connected on 88 of 112 attempts (78.6 percent) and missed just one extra point over his final three seasons. He missed four extra points as a true freshman.
On kickoffs, he is able to directionally place the football to help contain dangerous returners.
Hopkins leaves Florida State as the most productive kicker in FBS history, scoring a record 466 total points over four seasons. He finished his senior year with a school record 140 points, and his 88 career made field goals set new Florida State and ACC records.
In terms of extra points, Hopkins made 145 straight—the sixth longest streak in NCAA history.
He was a finalist for the Lou Groza award—given to the nation's best kicker—in both his junior and senior seasons.
Finally, Hopkins delivered 10 tackles, including four solo stops, while covering kickoffs. He is a willing and active tackler who ran the 40-yard dash at 4.74 seconds at the NFL combine.
A consistent approach and a powerful, accurate leg give Hopkins a chance to be a productive NFL kicker for 10-plus seasons. His ability to lift the football off the ground and both boom and place kickoffs are other pluses that should make Hopkins the first kicker to hear his name called during the 2013 NFL draft. Productive but still improving, he is the safest option at the position in this year's class.
Since 2008—or the span of five NFL drafts—only nine kickers have been drafted, and only one—Alex Henery—has been selected before the fifth round. These trends should dictate where Hopkins—the consensus No. 1 kicker in this draft—should fall.
The average draft position of the nine kickers picked since 2008 is No. 191 or late in the sixth round. Unless there is a reach, Hopkins should land somewhere in the fifth round or later—most likely in the sixth or seventh round.