Why you shouldn't rule out Tanner Brown as Rams 2024 starting kicker

Tanner Brown Los Angeles Rams
Tanner Brown Los Angeles Rams / Ric Tapia/GettyImages

The consensus among LA Rams fans appears to be that the team has to address the kicker position in the 2024 NFL Draft. Some have expressed their concerns over the team's need for a place kicker that they have mocked the Rams using a Round 3 pick to address the spot. One fan even went so far as to mock 11 placekickers to the LA Rams from the 2024 NFL Draft. I suspect that display was a bit of a parody, but the point was made. The fans want the front office to address the placekicker role definitively this season.

Yet, this begs the question: Why did the Rams re-sign former rookie kicker Tanner Brown to a Reserve/Future contract for 2024?

I assert that whatever the Rams front office saw as potential to sign Tanner Brown in 2023, they are getting at least that much and so much more in 2024. Here is what I mean. The learning curve for any rookie kicker is rather unimpressive in their first season in the NFL is a bit... inconsistent. Whether it is the fact that the kicker must play in a variety of football fields, must play three preseason games followed by a long 17-game regular season, and then on to post-season competition, the novelty of a new NFL career is not an easy adjustment to make for kickers.

But that is not to say that their second season is inconsistent.

Keep in mind that when the LA Rams signed former Pro Bowl kicker Matt Gay, he was released after a ho-hum rookie season kicking for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His accuracy in 2019 as the Bucs kicker was a pedestrian 77.1 percent. His extra point accuracy was equally alarming, as he only made 43 of 48 extra points, averaging just 89.6 percent.

Just for the record, he kicked 71.4 percent from 30-39 yards, 78.6 percent from 40-49 yards, and just 62.5 percent at a distance of 50 yards or greater.

For rookie kicker Tanner Brown, he never had the chance to kick in an NFL game. But he did kick for the LA Rams in three preseason games. In three preseason games, Brown kicked two of four field goals and four of four extra points. Of his field goals, he made one from 39 yards and 25 yards, while missing from 46 yards and 39 yards. While the percentages are not impressive, kicking just four field goal attempts is an awfully small population to decide the guy's fate.

For comparison purposes, in his rookie year, Matt Gay's preseason work resulted in field goals made from 55 yards, 32 yards, 48 yards, 21 yards and 55 yards while missing a field goal from 37 yards while kicking three of three extra points.

Do the Rams have reason to believe that Tanner Brown can do better in 2024? Absolutely. After all, he was hardly run through his paces before the team decided to part ways. Their two veteran kickers, Bret Maher and Lucas Havrisik, had already endured their own awkward rookie seasons, were unimpressive in their attempts to secure the team's starting kicker role.

The thing about drafting a rookie kicker is that it resets the timetable for a new learning curve.

Let's follow that assertion up with another real world example. The San Francisco 49ers were so enamored with kicker Jake Moody in the 2023 NFL Draft that they used the 99th overall pick from Round 3 to select him. But even Moody had his own set of struggles, only making six of nine field goal attempts from a distance of 40+ yards. In the postseason, he made all three field goals from 50+ yards, but could only make one of three attempts from 40-49 yards. His regular season accuracy was 84.0 percent, but that fell to just 75 percent in the postseason.

Moody's numbers will improve in 2024, just as all rookie kickers' stats improve in year two. We wrote this article when Tanner Brown signed with the Rams in 2023, and it still holds. Brown was one of the best kickers from the rookie class of 2023, and if he is competing for the team's starting kicker role this year, I give him the edge right now to win against any rookie from the 2024 NFL Draft.

The teams re-signed Tanner Brown for good reason. When competition resumes during the 2024 training camp, fans may be surprised to find that Tanner Brown has earned the kicker role once more.