We’re in the depths of the offseason here at The Falcoholic, and there has been little to nothing in the way of interesting news in ages. So, we’ll have to make some content of our own in the meantime. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be bringing you a new Player Profile series where we’ll take a look at each of the players on Atlanta’s roster. I’ll break down their measurables, past production, and try to project their 2020 season with the Falcons.
We’ll get things started with the projected starters. After looking closely at both the offensive and defensive starters, we now turn our attention to the specialists. The Falcons have long enjoyed stability at these spots, but 2020 brings in new faces across the board, including a true competition at punter for the first time since 2011.
Today we take a closer look at incumbent kicker Younghoe Koo, who took over the job from a disappointing Giorgio Tavecchio and an aging Matt Bryant midway through 2019 and turned in a respectable season.
K Younghoe Koo
Age: 25 (26 during 2020 season)
Contract: $750K cap hit in 2020, ERFA in 2021
Career Production: 12 games played | 32 FG attempts, 26 FG successes, 50-yard long, 81.3% FG percentage | 25 XP attempts, 24 XP successes, 96.0% XP percentage | 50 KO, 27 touchbacks, 54.0% touchback percentage, 60.8 KO average
2019 Production: 8 games played | 26 FG attempts, 23 FG successes, 50-yard long, 88.5% FG percentage | 16 XP attempts, 15 XP successes, 93.8% XP percentage | 50 KO, 27 touchbacks, 54.0% touchback percentage, 60.8 KO average
Previous Teams: UDFA signed by the Los Angeles Chargers (2017), Atlanta Falcons (2019-present)
Measurables: 5’9, 185
For the first time in recent memory, the Falcons had a problem at kicker during the 2019 season. The team decided that it was time to move on from franchise icon Matt Bryant, who was entering his age 44 season and had dealt with injuries during the previous year. Giorgio Tavecchio, who had filled in admirably for Bryant, was given the job with barely any competition in training camp. However, Tavecchio quickly proved he wasn’t up to the task by falling flat on his face during the preseason.
Bryant was brought back in and promptly struggled, posting the worst FG percentage of his career in 7 games (64.3%). He was cut in late October in favor of Younghoe Koo, a young kicker who impressed early with the Los Angeles Chargers but found himself cut after a bad stretch. Koo played very well for the Falcons in 2019, posting a very respectable 88.5% FG percentage, 93.8% XP percentage, and also handling kickoffs. However, the best part of Koo’s toolkit might have been his uncanny onside kick ability. He was named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week twice (Week 10 and Week 14) during his season with the Falcons.
Koo is an accurate short-to-medium range kicker with KO and onside ability, but he’s simply not reliable past 50 yards. His longer kicks don’t seem to have the distance, and even the 50-yarder he made was dangerously close to a miss. That’s a concern for his long-term future with the team, but overall Koo is a solid NFL kicker who is also exceptionally cheap. The Falcons have thus far failed to bring in any competition for Koo—despite claiming they were interested in doing so—so we have to assume at this point that he will be the unquestioned starter heading in 2020.
Projection: Younghoe Koo should continue being an accurate short-to-medium range kicker with impressive ability as a KO and onside specialist. If the Falcons utilize him in this manner (and choose instead to go for it on fourth downs where the kick would be greater than 50 yards), I’d expect strong accuracy numbers once again in 2020: around a 90% make rate for FGs and 95% for XPs. If they try to test his range, we could see the FG numbers look considerably worse—but there’s always a chance he could improve in that area.