With a new head coach, some intriguing free agents and a quarterback on the comeback trail, the 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
Will the Redskins carry two kickers?
The Redskins have half of a pretty good kicker in Kai Forbath. He hit the first 17 field goal attempts of his NFL career in 2012. Last year he had some issues with an injury early on but he finished strong, hitting on his last 14 attempts of the season. But he struggled in kickoffs, ranking 31st in touchbacks and dead last in net kickoff average. Enter seventh-round pick Zach Hocker, who has demonstrated during OTAs that he can consistently pound the ball into the end zone. Will the Redskins carry both kickers on the roster, using Forbath for field goals and the rookie for kickoffs?
Tandler: Carrying both kickers is going to be very tempting for Jay Gruden, Bruce Allen, and company. They don’t like to waste draft picks, even seventh rounders. The Redskins really can’t burn a practice squad spot on a kicker so if they want to keep Hocker he will have to be on the 53. Forbath has been working on improving his kickoffs but it is unlikely that he will be able to improve much on the total of 14 touchbacks he had last year. They will look long and hard at ways to keep Hocker on the roster. Perhaps if the team is enjoying perfect health when final cuts are made on August 30 they will be able to do it. But even then it will be difficult to find a way to shoehorn two kickers onto the 46-man game day active list without hurting available depth at a position. I think ultimately they will pick a winner in the kicker competition and decide to either deal with Forbath’s kickoff deficiencies or with the possible misadventures of a rookie field goal kicker.
El-Bashir: The Redskins spent a seventh round pick on a kicker. You know what that means? It means Hocker comes in with a leg up (sorry for the bad pun) in this summer’s kicker competition. It means he’s going to get every chance to prove that he can handle both field goal and kickoff duties. And we already know what he can do on kickoffs; he sent 34 of his 50 attempts last year at Arkansas into the end zone for touchbacks. And with special teams—and field position especially—a priority for the Redskins after last year’s debacle, that’s a big advantage. The question is this: can Hocker edge Forbath on field goal accuracy and consistency? Forbath is as cool and clutch as they come. How will Hocker handle the pressure with his job on the line? Well, we’ll find out this preseason. As far as keeping two kickers, I agree with Tandler on this one. If the Redskins remain remarkably healthy through the preseason, I suspect there’s a chance that they’ll keep two kickers on the 53. But even if that happens, I wouldn’t consider it to be a long-term solution. It would just buy Gruden and Co. a little longer to evaluate the two before settling on the one they intend to keep.