BEREA, Ohio -- Perhaps no one was more surprised by the Cleveland Browns’ selection of kicker Zane Gonzalez in the seventh round of the 2017 NFL Draft than the very player who held the job for most of last season, Cody Parkey.
Initially stunned by the Browns’ decision, Parkey has turned his focus to the competition with Gonzalez throughout training camp and the preseason.
“I was kind of taken aback, but I was reassured that it was going to be open competition, and for me, it just kind of makes me want to work harder, just to prove people wrong about me,” Parkey said.
“I’ve had success in this league. I’ve had my ups and downs, like anyone else, but just to go out there and show the team that I can do it and hope that I’m going out there and showing the coaches what I’m capable of doing, so good competition. Zane is an awesome guy, but at the end of the day, this is my job. I want to win, and I’m just going to go out there every day and try to compete.”
In four years with the Arizona State Sun Devils, Gonzalez converted an NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision record 96 of his 116 career field goal attempts (82.75 percent) and 204 of his 209 extra-point tries (97.6 percent) on the way to 492 points.
During the 2016 season, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound native of Deer Park, Texas, converted 23 of his 25 field goal tries (92.0 percent), including all 16 of his attempts from between 20 and 49 yards. Then, from 50 yards or more, Gonzalez converted seven of his nine tries, including a career long 59-yarder.
Prior to the 2016 season, Gonzalez’s career-long field goal was from 49 yards.
Gonzalez scored a career-best 138 points during his freshman year in 2013, when he converted 25 of his 30 field goal attempts and 63 of a possible 65 points after touchdowns.
He had 108 or more points in each of his four seasons at Arizona State.
“Absolutely, competition breeds success, but at the end of the day, I’m competing against myself,” Parkey said.
“I’m not trying to beat Zane that day. I’m trying to beat myself. So as good as it is having another guy in there, we can talk kicking and stuff like that and Coach Tabor does that too, so it’s definitely refreshing to have another guy in there that’s good. We’re getting each other better, and that’s what they wanted.”
In his first season with the Browns, Parkey converted 20 of his 25 field goal attempts and 20 of his 21 extra-point tries. However, three of Parkey’s five misses came in an overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium last September, where on two occasions, he had an opportunity to win the game.
But despite having to fight for his job with an unproven rookie, Parkey remains confident in his skills.
“I’m kicking well right now,” Parkey said. “I’m going out there and doing my best, you know. I put a lot of work in this offseason to be where I’m at right now, and I definitely feel a whole lot better this year than I did last year, that’s for sure.”