Daniel Carlson: The Raiders latest exceptional kicker

Source: Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports

One of the brightest spots on the 2020 Las Vegas Raiders roster was kicker Daniel Carlson. 2020 showed Las Vegas and the Raiders franchise how crucial it is to have a solid, reliable kicker like Carlson. The now 26-year-old is entering his fourth year in the league. Coming off a season full of career highs, Carlson has a lot to live up to.

Daniel Carlson was drafted in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. For some positions, the fifth round doesn’t hold the same weight as the first round. For kickers, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Carlson was one of only two kickers to be drafted in 2018, making his selection to the NFL that much more remarkable.

Carlson’s career with the Vikings, though, was short-lived. In training camp, Carlson beat out veteran Kai Forbath for the job and started Week 1. Carlson proved his worth in Week 1 as he sent all four attempts flying through the uprights. Shortly after his Week 1 success, Carlson struggled against the Green Bay Packers. He missed three field goals and was waived the following day.

One month after his release from Minnesota, Carlson was signed by the Raiders, who then were in Oakland. He quickly demonstrated his worth as he kicked a game-winning field goal against the Arizona Cardinals as the clock ran down. That week, he was named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week, a title he’s earned numerous times since then.

Since being signed by the Raiders, Carlson has been the highlight of the Raiders red zone visits. In 2020, Carlson made 45 extra-point attempts and 33 field goals. He tied for league-lead in points scored in 2020 with 144 (with Atlanta’s Younghoe Koo and Miami’s Jason Sanders). Carlson has truly proved himself to be an invaluable member of the roster.

While Carlson is exceptional, the Raiders are no stranger to Pro Bowl caliber kickers. Carlson joins the likes of Sebastian Janikowski and Jeff Jaeger as highly impressive Raiders kickers.

Jeff Jaeger played for the Raiders from 1989 to 1994 and was exceptional the whole time. Jaeger led the Raiders in points scored for six consecutive seasons and consistently placed in the top 10 in the league for most points scored in a season.

Janikowski, the most recent memorable kicker, played in the NFL for 19 seasons following an unheard of first-round draft pick in 2000. Janikowski is the Raider’s all-time leading scorer with 1,799 points.

Jaeger, Janikowski, and Carlson all have several things in common. All three have led the Raiders, and the league, in points scored during a season. All three have made game-winning field goals. Jaeger and Carlson are tied for the second-longest Raider field goal in history with 54 yards while Janikowski holds the record at 63 yards.

Carlson has the talent, poise, and determination to be a powerhouse kicker in the NFL for years to come. If we’re lucky, he’ll do it for the Raiders. Carlson has a lot riding on his shoulders after his highly impressive 2020 season, can he do it again?

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