Training camp is on the horizon! The big aspect of training camps that many fans watch is the roster battles. While most positions are simply trying to fill in back up roles, there are usually a couple of key roles that have an open competition. For the Packers, one of the spots up for grabs is the kicker. While that may not seem very exciting, for fans of the Packers it is. The kicker battle is one to watch at Packers training camp.
Crosby has been a staple on the Packers roster for almost 15 years. Largely he has been successful hitting just over 80% of his field goals and 97% of his extra points. He has hit some huge kicks in his tenure including some playoff winners. So why the competition? Last year, he missed 9 field goals with 4 of those misses coming in the range of 30-39 yards. Not great. Another 4 misses came from 40-49 yards. A little bit more forgivable but an NFL kicker should be able to hit 40 yard kicks consistently. This was surprising because the year before Crosby was perfect (16/16) on field goals. The Packers realize that special teams must be better this season so they are at least giving other kickers a look.
The Challenger: Gabe Brkic
OK K Gabe Brkic takes full advantage of his flexibility and long legs. Consistent approach and stays on top of the ball instead of falling away. Great trajectory on shorter FG but here he pounds a 56 yder into the stands. #SnapScout22 pic.twitter.com/IVLGZMhrQv
— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) January 25, 2022
Gabe Brkic is a rookie kicker out of the University of Oklahoma. Picked up off waivers on June 14, 2022, he comes into training camp looking to show off what he can do. For his career, he is 57/69 (82%) on field goals but it is his huge leg that intrigues many scouts. In 2021, he made 5 kicks of 50+ yards which was tied for most in the nation. Brkic also is no stranger to big games and high pressure situations as Oklahoma is one of the top programs in the nation. He struggles with accuracy, missing all 12 kicks in his career in the last 2 seasons but the raw talent is there. The highlight above shows what he can do if he gets ahold of the ball.
Will the Packers Really Move On From Crosby?
Ultimately, I do not believe that Crosby will lose the job. In 2012, Crosby had his worst year going 21/33 (63%) in field goals with an abysmal 2/9 from 50+. Despite this performance, the Packers stuck with him. Crosby responded by hitting 80% of his field goals in 7 of the next 8 seasons. With an improved coaching staff, one would think that Crosby will have a bounce back year. Crosby has also been in kicker battles before and has come out on top every time.
Brkic also has many flaws. The big leg is great but if the accuracy is not there, it really doesn’t matter how far you can kick the ball. He also was released by the Vikings before the Packers picked him up meaning that he didn’t perform well enough for the Vikings to keep him. (I take this with a grain of salt as being around the Minnesota Vikings organization always seems to do something to kickers). However, a coach like Rich Bisaccia could help perfect some of the mechanical issues with Brkic that is causing the inaccuracy. This could give Crosby a run for his money.
Ultimately, my money is on Crosby to be the kicker for the Packers next year. He has come through too many times for the Packers and has built up too much trust in his teammates. Those aspects will win him the job. Crosby is a career 80% kicker and while last year was a down year, I expect him to get back closer to that number. The kicker battle is still one to watch in Packers training camp but will probably end with Crosby coming out on top.
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