When the Cleveland Browns used a 4th round NFL Draft pick on a kicker, it raised some eyebrows.
But special teams coordinator Mike Priefer’s eyes were teary with happiness.
Priefer did a lot of work on York, traveling to Louisiana to take him to dinner before the draft.
That was after watching his biggest moments at LSU and spending time with York at the NFL Combine.
#Browns Mike Priefer on Cade York: "He's the right guy for our stadium, for our city and for the division that we play in."
— Camryn Justice (@camijustice) June 1, 2022
And he was convinced his big-moment success was due to confidence and not luck.
“(Cade York) won a national title as a freshman,” said Priefer. “15-of-19 from 50-plus at LSU, he’s a lights-out kicker, he loves big stage & has performed on the big stage. I think he’s very confident. Sky’s the limit.”
Priefer went on to call York “the right guy” for Cleveland and for FirstEnergy Stadium.
And the kicker will get a shot at reversing the Browns’ recent kicking woes.
No Competition Necessary
Cade York told reporters he already spoke to Browns fan-favorite, kicker Phil Dawson, about kicking in Cleveland.
And Priefer took York to practice his craft at FirstEnergy instead of the controlled environment of Berea.
They’ve already made the trip 3 times and Priefer says more trips will follow.
But one thing York does not have to worry about is a kicking competition.
#Browns special teams coordinator Mike Priefer on Cade York: "He's the right guy for our stadium for our city."
Joked he can "neither confirm nor deny" that he had tears of joy in his eyes when they made that trade down for 44, he knew they would have a chance at York.
— Ashley Bastock (@AshleyBastock42) June 1, 2022
Andrew Berry released all the other kickers on Cleveland’s roster.
Priefer explained that decision to the reporters’ pool,
“We drafted him, he is our guy, he is going to take every rep. I don’t want to waste it on a guy who isn’t our guy. We will have to limit Cade’s kicks just cause he wants to kick all the time.”
LSU’s special teams coordinator, Greg McMahon, shares Priefer’s confidence in his former kicker.
In fact, he told his Cleveland counterpart he would do “whatever it took” to draft York.
How Important Is The Kicker?
Kickers got 20 chances last season to win games on the final play, converting 18 times.
Besides those final plays, kickers won 13 games in the final minute or in overtime.
Andrew Berry reportedly planned to draft McPherson, but the Bengals got him first in the 2021 draft’s 5th round.
Perhaps that helped bring tears to Mike Priefer’s eyes when they called York’s name this year.
— Craig Fountain (@CraigAFountain) May 26, 2022
And it undoubtedly played a role in the decision to use their 4th rounder on the young kicker.
Confidence in the kicker is as important as confidence from the kicker.
And last year’s NFL-worst field goal percentage did nothing to instill that notion in Stefanski or Priefer.
But Priefer believes York is on par with McPherson, Tucker, and Chris Boswell in the AFC North.