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Steelers SHOULD Sign Cole Tracy and Create a REAL Placekicker Competition

May 31, 2019
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Steelers SHOULD Sign Cole Tracy and Create a REAL Placekicker Competition

One of the worst mistakes of the Steelers’ 2018 Draft was not using one of their nine  picks to supplant malfunctioning Placekicker, Chris Boswell. Other than Quarterback the Placekicker is your most important offensive player late in close games. He is often the difference between wining and losing. They sort of addressed the problem in signing UCF’s Matthew Wright but as you will see, below, he’s not really a great solution. There is another option out there and it would cost the Steelers next to nothing to sign him.

Below is a comparison between who the team currently has as opposed to who they SHOULD have.

This is the guy the Steelers have:

Chris Boswell was considered the 4th ‘Killer B’ coming into the 2018 season but then the bottom fell out. Boswell is 98 for 115 field goal attempts at an 85.2% yard average for his career. However, the 2018 season was a complete disaster. Boswell only connected on 13 for 20 field goal attempts for a 65.0% average. That stat landed him NFL 38th out of 40 overall and dead last, 32nd, among starters. He was equally crappy on extra points going 43 for 48 for an abysmal 89.9%, which landed him 29th among starters.

What was worse was Boswell choked on almost every game winning or game changing kick attempt. He was so bad Tomlin often resorted to going for it on 4th down and opting for the two point conversion rather than chancing a Boswell kick attempt.

I did a little research into Boswell’s college career and what I found was pretty awful. At Rice he hit only 164 of 172 extra points for a wretched 95.3% average. He was no better with field goals only making 65 of 88 for a downright depressing 73.9% average.

Bottom line: Boswell’s good years with the Steelers were probably a fluke. What we are getting now is the real Chris Boswell. No bueno.

This is the guy the Steelers signed:

Matthew Wright of UCF had his best year in 2018 hitting 12 or 14 attempts for an 85.7 average and was perfect on 74 extra points. Being a four year starter he has more big school experience than Tracy but kicked 98.6% on extra points and only 77.5% on field goals on his career. Wright only has one kick for 50 yards.  He has never made a kick over 50 yards. This indicates his leg strength is lacking. His kickoff stats were good, 97 for a 60.53 yard average and 29 touchbacks. Wright’s career field goal average would’ve been 27th among 2018 NFL kickers.

Bottom Line: Wright was a low performing Placekicker in college. There’s no reason to think he will become better at the NFL level.

This is the guy The Steelers should sign:

Cole Tracy of LSU was perfect on 42 extra points and was 29 of 33 field goal attempts for an 87.9% average in 2018. Hit 3 out of 5 from +50 yards. His longest kick was 54 yards. With two seconds left on the clock he had a game winner against Auburn as well as two clutch kicks in OT against Texas A&M. In 2017, in Division II, at Assumption college, Tracy connected on 27-of-29 field goals for 93.1% and made all 67 of his extra-points. In 2017. That means Tracy was 90.3% on FGs for the last two years. That would’ve placed him at 8th among starting 2018 NFL place-kickers.

Some draft analysts made a big deal of Tracy not performing kickoff duties for the Tigers. That was only because LSU had a freshman phenom, Avery Atkins who projects to be a great kicker. They had to give Atkins something to do to keep him out of the dreaded ‘transfer portal’.

The stats I could find on Tracy from Assumption College credit him with 95 kickoffs, averaging 58.8 yards (Atkins averaged 58.3 yards) with 17  forced touchbacks. Those are decent numbers and Tracy was routinely hitting kicks from 55 yards and could even hit 60 yarders in LSU enclosed practice facility, so he has plenty of leg to handle kickoffs.

Bottom Line: Tracy has only one year of big college experience but at that level he showed he could hit in very high pressure situations. The concerns about him not handling kickoff duties at LSU are unfounded, as the team was placating a new signee. His numbers on field goals and extra points are much better than anybody the Steelers currently have.

I’m guessing the kickoff duties thing is what scared off some teams but it shouldn’t have. Tracy showed he could handle those duties when he was at Assumption. It might be that he has only one year of big school experience but Tracy proved time and time again that stage wasn’t too big for him. The Steelers need to bring the kid in. Going into the season with their current Placekickers is a recipe for disaster.

What do you think? Should the Steelers stick with Boswell and hope he’ll turn it around? Do think Matthew Wright is ‘good enough’? OR do you agree with me and think Cole Tracy should be given a shot?

Go Steelers!

Jeffrey Burton

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