The New England Patriots have their Stephen Gostkowski replacement.
With their first Day 3 selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Patriots drafted Marshall kicker Justin Rohrwasser at No. 159 overall in the fifth round.
Rohrwasser wasn’t considered a top-tier kicking prospect entering the draft, but he was a reliable leg for the Thundering Herd last season, going 18-for-21 on field-goal attempts (with one blocked) with a long of 53 yards.
The 53-yarder came as time expired in a 26-23 win over Western Kentucky. Rohrwasser went 4-for-4 on field goals in that game. He also went 35-for-36 on extra points on the year.
Rohrwasser, Conference USA’s Special Teams Player of the Year in 2019, worked out for teams at Marshall’s pro day March 11, reportedly going 12-for-13 on field-goal tries, with the lone miss coming from 66 yards out.
Before landing at Marshall, Rohrwasser played two seasons at Rhode Island. The Clifton Park, N.Y., native converted 15 of 20 field-goal attempts and 39 of 40 extra points during those two years and set the all-time URI record for points in a game with 14 against Elon (three field goals, five extra points).
Well, there's a blast from the past. Former Rhody kicker Justin Rohrwasser was drafted in the fifth round by the New England Patriots! Spent the last two years at Marshall. Congrats Justin! #RamFam pic.twitter.com/TJJKgVaknR
— Rhody Football (@RhodyFootball) April 25, 2020
At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Rohrwasser is significantly bigger than previous Patriots kickers. Gostkowski is listed at 6-1, 215. Adam Vinatieri is 6-foot, 212.
Assuming he makes the roster this summer, Rorhwasser will become just the third Patriots player to kick in a Week 1 game since 1996, joining Vinatieri (’96 to 2005) and Gostkowski (2006 to 2019). With the COVID-19 restricting his access to fields and training facilities, he spent the weeks leading up to the draft kicking balls at light poles and other targets.
“You have to have the mindset that nothing is going to get in your way — a coach icing you three times, or a worldwide lockdown,” Rohrwasser told The Herald-Dispatch. “If you have a goal and you have a system of working toward your goal, you just have to stick with your system and training and remember what got you where you are: confidence, hard work and making sure you’re on the top of your game.
“You can’t let it slip, no matter what. If I have to go in my small backyard in upstate New York and kick 100 field goals into the trees, I’ll do that. It doesn’t matter where it is, I’m going to be ready. I’m not letting any opportunity slip.”
Big week ahead… ready for my opportunity. 33,40,40,51 and 60. pic.twitter.com/TsoPuNIFjS
— Justin Rohrwasser (@Xjrowex16) April 22, 2020
The fifth round has been a sweet spot for Patriots specialists for the last decade-plus. That’s where they previously found special teams standout Matthew Slater (2008), punter Zoltan Mesko (2010), long snapper Joe Cardona (2015) and punter Jake Bailey (2019).