Andrew Berry is extremely confident in the Cleveland Browns‘ rookie kicker, Cade York.
He was so certain about York that he used a valuable fourth-round pick on the LSU product.
Then Berry doubled down on York by releasing every other kicker from the Browns roster.
Why would York need competition when he already proved himself in big spots in college?
🚨CADE YORK IS A CLEVELAND BROWN🚨
91.4 field goal/extra point grade in 2021 (🥈 among all FBS kickers) pic.twitter.com/tcRKLHxq5j
— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) April 30, 2022
And the GM is willing to bet the proverbial farm on it.
But York isn’t just walking into the special teams’ room as the sole proprietor of the kicking game.
He could also hold coordinator Mike Priefer’s future in his foot.
What Could Go Wrong?
Mike Priefer is among the large majority of coaches returning from last year’s staff.
But among the few not retained was respected special teams assistant coach, Doug Colman.
Colman survived the Freddie Kitchens era but another subpar effort by the special units did him in this year.
And it is not a rare opinion that his firing was a shot across the bow for Priefer.
#Browns K Cade York said he had around a 40 minute conversation with Phil Dawson, getting tips on kicking at FirstEnergy Stadium, playing in bad weather and how to read the flags.
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) May 13, 2022
Of course, there’s a lot more to special teams than the kicking game, but kickers are the most visible asset.
Cade York did not handle kickoffs at LSU, so he has to re-master that skill.
And hopefully, kicking from a tee doesn’t change his approach to field goals or extra points.
If York struggles early, it will be interesting to see how much rope he gets and whether Priefer holds the other end.
Why Berry Trusts York
Berry hopes the huge crowds who watched York in college prepared him for FirstEnergy Stadium.
Over the past 2 seasons, York hit on 88% of his field goals from within 50 yards and all 75 of his extra points.
Chase McLaughlin put only 11 of the 17 field-goal attempts under 50 yards through the uprights last year.
Overall, the Browns’ field goal success rate is under 80% since Mike Priefer came on board in 2019.
Cade York's 57-yarder in the fog to upset Florida was AWESOME.
— NFL on CBS 🏈 (@NFLonCBS) April 30, 2022
But the guy York will be compared to throughout his career is probably the Bengals’ Evan McPherson.
McPherson hit on 85% of his field-goal attempts as a rookie and went 46/48 on extra points.
We’ll see if Kevin Stefanski extends the distance he’ll consider trying a field goal from with York on board.
After all, York hit 11 of his last 14 attempts over 50 yards, including a final-minute 57-yarder to beat Florida.
Priefer Needs The Supporting Cast, too
Cade York can cover up a lot of ills on offense and special teams with a successful rookie year.
When people see a high percentage kicker they trust in the clutch, it tends to lift the whole unit’s reputation.
But just in case, Berry also brought in some other high-ceiling performers.
Corey Bojorquez owns the longest punts of the 2020 (72 yards) and 2021 (82 yards) seasons.
Grant was acquired in-season by Chicago and had over 740 return yards and 3 total TDs (2 on offense, 1 as returner).
— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) March 16, 2022
He also shows an ability to direct punts and places a few inside the 10-yard line.
And at the other end of the kicking and punting game, Berry brought in a proven returner.
Jakeem Grant returned 4 punts and 2 kickoffs for touchdowns in 6 seasons.
At that pace, fans could see the first Browns kick return touchdown since 2009 or the first punt return since 2015.