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2020 NFL draft: 3 reasons why the Patriots selected Marshall K Justin Rohrwasser

Justin Rohrwasser joins fifth-round specialists in Jake Bailey and Joe Cardona.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 26 Western Kentucky at Marshall Photo by Steve Roberts/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots set sights on the uprights Saturday afternoon, taking Marshall kicker Justin Rohrwasser at No. 159 overall in the 2020 NFL draft.

In the process, Rohrwasser became the first kicker off the board in a class featuring Georgia’s Rodrigo Blankenship and Georgia Southern’s Tyler Bass.

Here are three variables behind New England’s selection of the reigning Conference USA Special Teams Player of the Year.

Investing in the fifth round

The Patriots have frequented the draft’s fifth round for specialists. The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Rohrwasser is the next in line for a war room that turned to Navy long snapper Joe Cardona in 2015 and Stanford punter Jake Bailey in 2019.

The track record in that range dates back further, with the likes of Michigan punter Zoltan Mesko arriving in 2010 and UCLA gunner Matthew Slater in 2008. It is a hit rate that New England hasn’t waited post-draft to compete for.

Nearby connection to 85.7 percent

Rohrwasser began his college career some 60 miles from Gillette Stadium at Rhode Island, where he went 15-of-20 on field goals, 39-of-40 on extra points and set a Rams single-game record with 14 points.

Rohrwasser then transferred to the Thundering Herd, and went 18-of-21 in his final year to lead the Conference USA in field-goal percentage. The redshirt senior did so while making good on both of his attempts from 50-plus yards and going 5-of-6 between 40 and 49 yards.

Post-Gostkowski plan

New England announced the release of Stephen Gostkowski in March, after a year in which the franchise’s all-time scoring leader went to injured reserve four games in. The 36-year-old Gostkowski had succeeded Adam Vinatieri in the 2006 draft and stood as the longest-tenured member of the roster at the time of his departure.

But a total of four kickers checked into games for the Patriots last campaign. A pair more spent time on the practice squad. And veteran Nick Folk, who remains unsigned, was the last remaining. Rohrwasser now enters the long-term plan.


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