Despite the fact that the Bengals used their franchise tag on Mike Nugent, who hasn't inked the one-year deal yet, Cincinnati isn't shutting the door on this year's place kickers heading into the 2012 NFL draft. According to NFLDraftScout.com, Missouri Western State University place-kicker Greg Zuerlein drilled a 57-yard field goal during a private workout with the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday.
Zuerlein, who led the nation with 2.3 fied goals per game, broke the NCAA record for consecutive field goals made (21). He's already held a private workout with the Minnesota Vikings and 12 to 15 team scouts checked out his Pro Day last month. Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. called him the best place kicker in this year's draft (In$ider):
You haven't seen Zuerlein, but he banged home 21 straight field goals this year and showed off range out to 60 yards. He looks like a good one. Going into the year, Walsh to me seemed like a lock to hold down the top spot. But his inconsistency became, well, consistent, and he's dipped. He may need to battle through the UFA process if he wants to make a team.
Kiper is referring to Blair Walsh out of Georgia.
It would seem unlikely that Mike Nugent has much to worry about (read the part where he was franchised by the Bengals earlier this year?). However if someone like Zuerlein were available as an undrafted free agent, there's always the chance. And if Nugent goes down with an injury (slight history of one with a quad injury in '08 and knee injury in '10), they'll have some information on Zuerlein if he's there for the taking -- though it seems unlikely he won't have a team next year.
Mike Nugent set a franchise record with 33 field goals made in 2011.
Make sure to check out our 2012 visits and private workouts list.