football-player football-score football-helmet football-ball Accuracy Arm-Strength Balance Ball-Security Ball-Skills Big-Play-Ability Block-Deconstruction Competitive-Toughness Core-Functional-Strength Decision-Making Discipline Durability Effort-Motor Elusivness Explosiveness Football-IQ Footwork Functional-Athleticism Hand-Counters Hand-Power Hand-Technique Hands Lateral-Mobility Leadership Length Mechanics Mobility Pass-Coverage-Ability Pass-Protection Pass-Sets Passing-Down-Skills Pocket-Manipulation Poise Power-at-POA Progressions RAC-Ability Range Release-Package Release Route-Running Run-Defending Separation Special-Teams-Ability-1 Versatility Vision Zone-Coverage-Skills Anchor-Ability Contact-Balance Man-Coverage-Skills Tackling Lifted Logic Web Design in Kansas City clock location phone email play chevron-down chevron-left chevron-right chevron-up facebook tiktok checkbox checkbox-checked radio radio-selected instagram google plus pinterest twitter youtube send linkedin search arrow-circle bell left-arrow right-arrow tdn-mark filled-play-circle yellow-arrow-circle dark-arrow-circle star cloudy snowy rainy sunny plus minus triangle-down link close drag minus-circle plus-circle pencil premium trash lock simple-trash simple-pencil eye cart

Patriots Training Camp Battle: Nick Folk vs Chad Ryland

  • Justin Melo
  • July 25, 2023
  • Share

The writing may be on the wall for veteran New England Patriots kicker Nick Folk. The Patriots added competition by drafting former Maryland kicker Chad Ryland with the No. 112 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. 

Before the last season began, the Patriots signed Folk to a two-year extension worth $5 million. Folk was largely effective throughout the 2022 campaign, converting 32-of-37 field goal attempts. It did represent a slight step back from his excellent showings in 2020 and 2021, but Folk’s 86.5% made-kick percentage still ranked 13th in the league (minimum qualifiers, 20 attempted kicks). Folk also went an acceptable 32-of-35 on extra points.

This past season, Folk set a new record for the most consecutive successful field goals from 50 yards or less. Folk shattered the previous record of 56 and extended his historic streak to 64 before a midseason misfire versus the Cleveland Browns. Consistency from under 50 yards typically keeps you employed as an NFL kicker. Yet, the Patriots entered the draft thinking of a succession plan. It could make sense given Folk is slated for his age-39 season in 2023. 

Head coach Bill Belichick made Ryland the second kicker drafted, just 13 picks after the San Francisco 49ers took Jake Moody. Ryland’s draft status makes him the heavy favorite to claim the starting job. Kickers are rarely drafted, and when they are, they make 53-man rosters. Folk may be sacrificed during cut-down day as a result, as even someone as unpredictable as Belichick can’t possibly justify carrying two kickers.

Ryland transferred to Maryland from Eastern Michigan ahead of the 2022 campaign. He was seeking an opportunity to kick on a bigger stage while pursuing his NFL dreams. Ryland left Maryland with the program’s single-season highest field goal percentage (82.6%) record.

Like Folk, Ryland was generally consistent from short distances. The Lebanon, Pennsylvania native went a perfect 9-for-9 from 40 yards or less at Maryland. However, Ryland must improve from 40-plus after going 10-of-14 (71.4%) on such attempts. Ryland did make three field goals from 50 yards or- ore against Michigan and Michigan State.

Ryland earned an invite to this year’s Senior Bowl, indicating Ryland was viewed as a consensus top-ranking kicker by the majority of 32 teams throughout the pre-draft process. The Patriots met with Ryalnd and watched him kick in Mobile. A handful of franchises also traveled to College Park to watch Ryland perform at Maryland’s Pro Day. You guessed it, the Patriots were in attendance. They showed consistent interest in Ryland’s services, which speaks volumes regarding how they view his long-term potential.

The Patriots may view Folk as an aging asset that’s running out of gas. From Week 11 onward, Folk only converted 80.6% of his attempts over the course of New England’s final eight regular-season contests.

Ryland would have to be awful to concede this positional battle to Folk. Folk has been generally excellent since joining the Patriots, but football is a cutthroat business—it’s a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately league. Ascending talents are always attempting to take a veteran’s job, and Ryland appears poised to take Folk’s.

Written By

Justin Melo