The Redskins added a little spice to the kicking competition on Saturday when they drafted Arkansas’ Zach Hocker in the seventh round.
Kai Forbath, the incumbent kicker, is among the most accurate field goal kickers in the league. But he has struggled to consistently force touchbacks by putting kickoffs deep into the end zone. Hocker has one of the strongest legs of the kickers the Redskins graded, head coach Jay Gruden said.
“His leg strength is very good,” Gruden said. “He was a very productive kicker at Arkansas. I think he was ranked ninth or tenth in the nation as far as touchbacks, which is excellent.”
Hocker was also impressive on field goals last season, connecting on 13 of 15 attempts (86.7 percent). He was also 3 of 4 from 50 or more yards, with a long of 54.
Gruden also said he might consider keeping Forbath as the field goal kicker and Hocker as a kickoff specialist. Hocker is the first kicker the Redskins have drafted since selecting Jeff Hall (Tennessee) in 1999.
“That’s not out of the question,” Gruden said. “We’ll see in training camp. Kai needs to kickoff better; that’s a fact. He’s obviously a very good field goal kicker, which is important. And we have a lot of respect for his talent as a kicker, but we also felt like we like we needed to bring another kicker in here and compete and look at for the kickoff specialist [role] and compete with Kai.”
Gruden added: “Every other position on the football team has competition and the kicker should be no different.”