Bears May Consider Florida State Place-Kicker with 2nd-Round Pick
LeGere, Bob, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
INDIANAPOLIS - The Bears and every other NFL team got quite a kick out of Florida State's Sebastian Janikowski at the scouting combine last weekend.
The 6-foot-1, 260-pound Polish import is expected to be drafted no later than the second round, almost unheard of in recent years for a kicker.
In the modern era, the only pure kickers drafted in the first round were Texas' Russell Erxleben in 1978 and Arkansas' Steve Little the following year. Janikowski probably is more talented than either.
"He kicked lights out pretty much," said Bears vice president of player personnel Mark Hatley. "The ball jumped off his foot. He didn't miss one. He sure helped himself. In fact, I was hoping he wouldn't kick as good as he did."
That's because Hatley said the Bears would consider Janikowski with the ninth pick of the second-round. But he could be gone by then.
"If he's the best player that's going to help you win the most games, yeah, I think you'd probably have to look at him pretty hard," Hatley said.
Starting with kicks from 20 yards away and then moving back in 5-yard increments, each of the kickers attempted three placements from each spot until they reached 40 yards. Then they attempted three from 50.
Janikowski hit 18 in a row and, according to Hatley, his kicks from 50 were "pretty high up on the net."
With his size, strength and athleticism - he was a standout soccer player in Poland - Janikowski doesn't concern himself too much with technique.
"It's funny watching him," Hatley said. "I had never really noticed him at the games. But you see (other kickers) take two steps to the right, three steps back or whatever. He doesn't do anything. He just walks back there and kicks it. It's the dangedest thing I've ever seen."
Hatley said Janikowski answered questions about his recent legal troubles sufficiently to satisfy the Bears. He was charged with offering a police officer $300 to release a friend at Florida State who was arrested after an altercation in a bar.
By his own admission, Janikowski is a big fan of the college social life, especially the party atmosphere. But he's leaving school a year early for the pros so he can use part of the money to bring his mother here from Poland.
"He explained it all to us," Hatley said of the legal problem, which Janikowski said would be resolved soon. "He told us what we wanted to hear as far as what happened. He made some bad choices; he made some bad decisions that I think he's learned from. …