Crosby has leg up on Rayner

With a resume like the Colorado rookie's, it doesn't take a physicist to see the sixth-round pick is the favorite to be the Packers' kicker this season.

Kicking a football is a lesson in physics.

Not that Mason Crosby is a modern-day Albert Einstein, but the Packers' sixth-round draft pick has got this kicking thing down to a science.

Crosby's legs are unusually strong to begin with. Mix in uncommon flexibility at the hip and knee and a 6-foot-1 frame that acts as a giant lever, and Crosby is able to create the type of leg speed needed to kick footballs perhaps further than anyone who's ever played the game.

When he was 10 years old, Crosby — a young soccer player — kicked a football for the first time. He nailed a 30-yard field goal.

Fast forward about a decade, and there's Crosby kicking for the University of Colorado, booting one through the uprights from 60 yards against Iowa State in 2004. Then there's the one before a game, when Crosby connected from an astounding 71 yards.

Yeah, but can he kick the ball that far when away from the thin air of the Rocky Mountains? Well, there was that 58-yarder at the University of Miami in 2005.

Crosby was projected as a first-day day draft pick, even a possible second-rounder in the estimation of ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.

Instead, he lasted until the sixth round, when the Packers drafted him to provide some "competition" for incumbent Dave Rayner.


Crosby will win the kicking job, almost as sure as Brett Favre will beat out Aaron Rodgers to be the starting quarterback.

Guys with this kind of potential don't come around very often.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson landed the best kicker in the draft. In comparison to his NFC North brethren, who landed the best receiver (Lions, Calvin Johnson), running back (Vikings, Adrian Peterson) and tight end (Bears, Greg Olsen), that's a lot like being the tallest jockey in the locker room at Churchill Downs.

Still, while it's not a time-honored cliche like "defense wins championships," you can't can't win a championship if you don't have an above-average kicker. And when you're building a defense-first team, having a big-time kicker is a necessity.

Rayner was average at best last season, making 26 of 35 field-goal attempts, including only 15 of 21 (71 percent) in the second half of the season. He wasn't a disaster, but his overall percentage ranked 28th in the NFL.

In contrast, Crosby hit only 19 of 28 last season (68 percent, down from his 78 percent from his first three seasons), but he nailed 17 of 19 from inside of 50 yards. That makes him far from a finished product, but with his massive leg strength on field goals and ability to kick the ball deep into the end zone two-thirds of the time — it's unlikely the Packers would be able to hide him all season on their practice squad.

Of course, there's more to kicking than leg strength. As Yogi Berra once said about baseball also applies to kicking. It's 90 percent mental, and the other half is physical. Kickers earn their money in the clutch, and Crosby really excelled when it mattered most. He finished his college career 12 of 14 on field goals in the final 9:30 of games. The two misses? Attempts from 63 and 65 yards.

With credentials like that, it doesn't take a rocket scientist — or a physicist — to figure out Crosby enters training camp as the favorite to be the Packers' kicker in 2007, and perhaps many years to come.

Steve Lawrence is a regular contributor to Send comments to

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