Ahead of the 2019 NFL Draft, Browns critics noted that the kicker position was a questionable one for the upcoming season.
On April 18, General Manager John Dorsey did not dismiss the idea of the Browns landing a kicker at some point in the upcoming draft if it would “help the organization moving forward.”
With the No. 170 overall selection, the Cleveland Browns did exactly what Dorsey alluded to, drafting former Oklahoma Sooner Austin Seibert.
Seibert was outstanding during his time in Norman, Oklahoma, converting 87-of-88 extra points last season as well as 17-of-18 on field goal attempts. A small field goal attempt sample size, but let’s be honest, there’s not a lot of kicking happening in the Big 12.
Regardless of this, his work was enough to break the FBS record held by former Browns kicker Zane Gonzalez. Seibert ranks first in FBS history in extra points made and attempted with 310 out of 315. He missed one extra point in 169 attempts over the last two seasons combined.
His longest collegiate field goal was 51 yards. However, the Illinois-native has the leg strength to get the job done. Some fans will recognize Seibert from a viral YouTube video of him confidently converting a 66-yard try during his high school days.
But it was his competitive nature that allowed him to hear his name as a 5th-round draft selection in April’s NFL Draft.
Browns scout Josh Cox, who heavily investigated Seibert as a potential draft prospect, said it wasn’t just Seibert’s leg that impressed the Browns.
“I think the three big things about him is that he had an extraordinary product career, also has a huge leg and he is very, very competitive. It is a young career for me, but I haven’t seen a kicker as competitive as he is.”
Browns fans fell in love with the competitive spirit of Baker Mayfield this fall. Seibert possesses some of that same swagger.
“I think I got a lot of that moxie and competitiveness comes from just being around Baker,” Seibert said. “We were together for three years at Oklahoma.”
As far as drafting him in Round 5, some fans and pundits criticized Dorsey for “wasting” a draft pick on a kicker. For Dorsey and Head Coach Freddie Kitchens, kickers are evaluated the same way as any other position.
“We rank those guys just like we rank everybody else. He was sitting there on the board and we decided to go get him. There is nothing wrong with always adding competition. I think we did that,” Kitchens said.
Clearly, the Browns were not completely satisfied with Greg Joseph, who was shaky in his rookie campaign. Seibert will not be handed the starting kicking job, but it’s rare that a kicker is taken in the fifth round just to be released.
Seibert was the Browns highest rated kicker, Dorsey said. Dorsey was also certain that the former-Sooner would be already drafted by round six, the time the Browns drafted again.
“When you go to practice or you go to Pro Days, they are going to work them out at further distances,” Browns scout Cox said. “There is a sound that the ball will make when it is coming off their foot if they have a really strong leg. He has a cannon. I’m not worried about it at all.”
The BIGPLAY Podcast
live wednesday nights @ 8:30pm