After going undrafted, former Northwestern kicker Jeff Budzien has signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars, according to multiple reports.
He joins Rashad Lawrence, Kain Colter and Tyler Scott in signing with NFL teams as undrafted free agents from Northwestern.
— Kaylee Cardinal (@kayleecardinal) May 11, 2014
Budzien had an illustrious career at NU. He was a two-time Lou Groza Award semifinalist and two-time 1st team All-Big Ten selection. He also holds numerous Northwestern records, including most points (280) and highest field goal percentage (.872).
This past year, in his senior season, Budzien nailed 23 of 25 field goal attempts. However, the longest of the 23 was from 43 yards.
And that’s the knock on Budzien. He’s as accurate as they come, but his leg strength may not be up to scratch by NFL standards. Many NFL kickers can be trusted from 50-plus yards out, and Budzien hasn’t done much to suggest that he can fit that mold. He also likely wouldn’t be able to handle kickoff duties.
He’ll get his shot in Jacksonville, but his chances of making the Jaguars roster are slim. Josh Scobee has been entrenched as the Jags’ kicker since 2004, and in 2012, signed a new four-year deal with the team that will keep him under contract for at least two more seasons. Nearly every NFL team only carries one kicker on its 53-man roster.
Nonetheless, Budzien will get an opportunity to prove himself. Barring injury, he’s not going to be the Jaguars kicker in 2014, but if word spreads around the league that he has improved his leg strength and extended his range, this won’t be his last shot at the NFL.
The fact that he went undrafted isn’t a huge knock. The difference between 7th-round picks and undrafted free agents is slim, especially with kickers. So the bottom line is, Budzien’s NFL hopes hinge on his performances in camp. Accurate kickers are a commodity, and that’s what Budzien. He just needs to complete the package.