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Cardinals’ UDFA Gem #4: Matt McCrane, K, Kansas St.

Could the Arizona Cardinals replace their veteran kicker with an undrafted free agent?

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Kansas Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

As we are seeing from Steve Wilks, everything he emphasizes is related to detail and accuracy.

Enter UDFA K Matthew McCrane.

While McCrane is undersized at 5-10, 165 pounds and suffered two injuries in four years at Kansas St., he was pretty much automatic from inside of 50 yards at Kansas St.

Take a look at his numbers:

2014: 12/13 FG 0-39 yards, 4/4 FG 40-49 yards, 2/2 FG 50+ yards, 41/42 XPTs. (FG 95%, XPT 98%)

2015: 6/6 FG 0-39 yards, 1/1 FG 40-49 yards, 0/0 50+ yards, 15/15 XPTs (FG 100%, XPT 100%).

2016: 10/10 0-39 yards, 1/4 FG 40-49 yards, 0/0 50+ yards, 29/29 XPTs (FG 79%, XPT 100%).

2017: 14/15 FG 0-39 yards, 4/5 FG 40-49 yards, 3/6 FG 50+ yards, 48/48 XPTs (FG 81%, XPT 100%).

Career %: 42/44 95% 0-39 yards, 10/14 71% 40-49 yards, 5/8 63% 50+ yards, 128/129 99% XPTs.

When you look at McCrane’s FG kicking technique what jumps out are his reliably consistent mechanics, his explosive follow-through and leg extension. He is able to control the trajectory of his kicks---and---get this---he never shanks a kick.

On kickoffs, McCrane is very versatile---he kicked 45% of his kickoffs for touchbacks, but his forte is in directional kickoffs designed to pin the opponents deep in their own territory. In fact, throughout his career, kickoff returns versus McCrane averaged less than 20 yards a return.

Last year it was no secret that Phil Dawson struggled with accuracy. During the second half of the season he settled down after he claimed his was not following through properly because of shoddy FG blocking, particularly on the edge rushers.

Dawson’s cap figure this year is $3.5M, with a dead cap figure of $500K, which means the Cardinals could save $3M on the cap if they trade or release him. Dawson converted 32/40 FGs (80%) and 23/26 XPTs (88%). On kickoffs 44.7% were touchbacks and the average return was 22.1 yards.

If Matt McCrane proves that he is as or more accurate than Dawson, it would seem to be a no brainer to keep him in the fold for minimal salaries the next 4 years. His cap figure this year is $480K. The Eagles rookie K Jake Elliott is coming off a very good season---and he’s 5-9, 170. In his 4 years at Memphis Elliott converted 77.9% of his FGs and 100% of his XPTs. In comparison, in 4 years at Kansas St. Matt McCrane converted $86.4 of his FGs and 99% of his XPTs.

These comparative stats potentially bode well for Matt McCrane. Last year Matt Elliott set 3 NFL records for rookie kickers: longest FG (61 yards), longest FG in the playoffs by a rookie (53 yards) and longest FG in the Super Bowl by a rookie (46 yards).