Will kicker be drafted in on Day 1?

Iowa kicker Nate Keading's impressive numbers get him selected on the first day of the draft.

Updated: April 19, 2004, 12:38 PM ET
By By Darrell Trimble | NFL Insider
What is the highest that a kicker should be chosen in the draft? That is the question that Iowa kicker Nate Kaeding will force NFL teams to answer this weekend when the annual draft takes place.

It isn't often that a kicker of Keading's ability is available. As a Hawkeye he scored more points than any other kicker in University of Iowa history (360) and set school records for consecutive field goals (22) and extra points (60). Over his last two seasons he missed on only four of his 45 field-goal attempts and connected on all five of his tries over 50 yards. Plus, 40 of his 71 kicks in his senior season were touchbacks.

Could those impressive numbers get him selected on the first day of the draft? Perhaps. Given the ever-growing importance of special teams, a good kicker could be the difference between a win and a loss for a team in several games over the course of the season. Last year in the NFL 58 games were decided by a field goal or less.