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Why Karl Schmitz Is Denver Broncos' New Secret Weapon

Travis Wakeman@@traviswakeman10Featured Columnist IVMarch 19, 2015

Denver Broncos kicker Brandon McManus (8) is congratulated by punter Britton Colquitt (4) after kicking a field goal against the New York Jets in the first quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Kathy Willens/Associated Press

It's not often NFL fans have the opportunity to get excited about the signing of a kicker. In case you hadn't heard, the Denver Broncos recently signed one.

Karl Schmitz is one of the newest members of the Denver Broncos' roster. Why is this exciting news? Simply because of the potential that Schmitz brings to the team.

Here, you'll be able to get to know Denver's new kicker and why we think his signing can become a great under-the-radar transaction starting with the 2015 season.

Who Is Karl Schmitz?

Born in Bermuda, Schmitz has limited experience as a football player, though he did handle both kickoffs and field-goal duties at Jacksonville University in 2008.

Though no official stats can be found, his player page shows he did in fact play for the Jacksonville Dolphins.

From there, he transferred to the University of Missouri—St. Louis. However, that school didn't have a football program.

It appeared that would be the end of his football playing days, but he has been working with former NFL place-kicker Mike Hollis at the ProForm Kicking Academy.

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After years of trying to land a job as a kicker in the NFL, Schmitz was finally given that chance when he was noticed by representatives of the Broncos at a recent free-agent scouting combine in Arizona.

Denver's Kicking Woes in 2014

Few teams in the league had as many issues in the kicking game as the Broncos last season.

After Matt Prater was suspended for the first four games of the season due to a violation of the league's substance-abuse policy, the team brought in Brandon McManus to fill in for him.

That turned into a permanent role for McManus when the Broncos surprisingly decided to release Prater.

That move came back to haunt the Broncos, as McManus proved to be unreliable. He didn't make a single field goal of over 50 yards, something Denver could count on Prater to do routinely. 

Once the Broncos got to the point where they wouldn't even bring McManus in to attempt long-range kicks, they decided to go to the street and sign Connor Barth.

Barth was much more reliable, but his leg strength was constantly called into question. For that reason, the Broncos had to keep McManus on the roster to handle kickoffs.

This was a complete waste of a roster space, even if the 64 touchbacks he had ranked McManus second in the league in that department.

But the Broncos didn't just have issues with their kickers. The punter wasn't great either.

Britton Colquitt averaged just 44.2 yards per punt, his lowest average since coming to Denver in 2010. He also had a paltry 37.6-yard net average.

What Does Schmitz Bring to Denver?

With the aforementioned problems in the kicking and punting departments, it's not unreasonable to get excited about Schmitz.

That is because Schmitz can do a little bit of everything. He can punt, kick off and kick very long field goals, as the video below indicates.

At 6'4" and 215 pounds, Schmitz is a big, powerful kicker. But he doesn't just look the part.

If the Broncos are lucky, Schmitz could handle two of these duties next season, allowing the team more flexibility within its roster.

Whether he becomes the team's new punter or kicker, he could be the designated kickoff specialist.

Keeping three specialists on the roster is not something the Broncos should do this year, particularly when the team could likely use an extra offensive lineman, linebacker or just a player to return punts and kicks in that roster spot.

Colquitt seems like he'll be the player under the most pressure. After all, it will be hard to justify his $3 million salary if Schmitz comes in and gives him any competition at all.

The Broncos could cut Colquitt and save $2.25 million against the salary cap. That is an enticing option and without question part of the reason why they brought Schmitz in.

However, Schmitz is the type of player who could help the Broncos in several ways, something neither McManus nor Barth is able to do.

Imagine the powerful leg you just witnessed in the above video kicking in the thin air of Denver.

How many fans around the league even noticed this signing? Heck, how many fans in Denver saw that the team has a new kicker?

The Broncos just announced they signed punter/kick specialist Karl Schmitz. If he can punt/kickoffs the team may drop Colquitt & McManus

— Brandon Perna (@BrandonPerna) March 12, 2015

Sure, his odds of making the team may not be very high, but he was signed after not playing competitively for seven years for a reason.

If he comes into camp and performs, the Broncos could unleash a brand-new kicking machine on the rest of the NFL in 2015.

That makes Schmitz an intriguing player and one you must keep your eye on.

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