This morning’s edition of our annual 90-in-90 series jumps to the first of two kickers on the roster right now, both of whom are rookies hoping to claim a roster spot. This series is an annual look at the Miami Dolphins’ 90-man preseason roster, one each (almost each?) day.
We start each article with a look at the player’s performance from the previous year, whether that was in the NFL or in college. Then we take a look at how the player will likely do in 2018, with a glance at both progression and regression. Finally, we look at whether the player will likely make the 53-man regular season roster or not.
This year, we have already finished looks at 18 players, wide receiver Leonte Carroo, punter Matt Haack, safety T.J. McDonald, running back Buddy Howell, wide receiver DeVante Parker, defensive end William Hayes, wide receiver Isaiah Ford, safety/cornerback Walt Aikens, defensive end Claudy Mathieu, linebacker Kiko Alonso, cornerback Xavien Howard, long snapper Lucas Gravelle, wide receiver Danny Amendola, tight end A.J. Derby, running back Frank Gore, defensive tackle Gabe Wright, wide receiver Kenny Stills, and cornerback Tony Lippett. Today, we take a look at kicker Jason Sanders.
Sanders finished a four-year college career at New Mexico in 2017. He was 28-for-28 on extra points and 10-for-15 on field goal attempts. His 66.7 percent conversion rate was down from the 92.3 percent he had in 2016, when he was 12-for-13 on the season. In those two seasons, Sanders kicked off 132 times, with just 22 of them being returned. He had four field goals over 50 yards in his college career, including 2-of-3 from over 50-yards in 2017.
Why he will progress
If he makes the roster, Sanders should progress under the coaching of Darren Rizzi. He already has the leg that the coaches want, especially on kickoffs where Miami was 29th in the league in 2017 with just a 41.8 percent touchback rate on kicks.
Why he will regress
That field goal percentage is bothersome. If he cannot figure out the issues there, he could struggle in preseason or all season. He is in a battle with undrafted free agent Greg Joseph, so one of them will make the roster and one will not - which would have to be seen as a regression.
Chances of making the 53-man roster
We will say 60 percent that he makes the roster, 40 percent that he does not. The coaches have stressed that the competition between Sanders and Joseph has been very even in the offseason training program, with the battle expected to continue into training camp and the preseason. Sanders will get the slight advantage on the odds right now because he was a draft choice compared to Joseph as an undrafted free agent.