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Bengals Draft Trends: Kickers are people, too

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Historically the Bengals don’t seem to favor drafting punters or kicker, selecting only three with their last 184 selections.

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The 1994 draft was the first one of the modern era with a seven round draft and compensatory free agents. Since drafts before this period operated in a different league model, we are looking at every draft since 1994, which gives us over two decades of history to mine for interesting draft trends for the Bengals.

Dating back to the 1994 NFL draft, the Bengals have made 184 selections. Only three of them have been used on punters or kickers. And based on the results, it’s understandable why.

Neil Rackers

In 2000 the Bengals used a sixth round selection on kicker Neil Rackers, who is the lone kicker to be drafted by the Bengals in over two decades.

Rackers struggled in his rookie season, making only 12 of 21 field goal attempts for a paltry 57.1% accuracy rate. Things did not get much better in his second season when he only made 17 of 28 kicks for a 60.7% success mark. Things got a little better in year three, when he made 83.3% of his field goals, although missed two extra points.

Rackers kicked for three seasons as a Bengal, racking up a career accuracy percentage of 65.7% on field goal attempts, and 96.1% on extra points. He did have one great season, as an Arizona Cardinal in 2005 when he connected on 40 of 42 field goal attempts. But for the rest of his career, he holds a percentage below 80%.

Travis Dorsch

Dorsh was the first of two punters selected by the Bengals since 1994. He was a marginal kicker at Purdue, struggling with accuracy, hitting only 70% of his field goals, and barely making 90% of his extra points. But in his junior seasons he started adding punting to his duties, and put up some impressive numbers. He left Purdue with a 48.5 yard punting average, which impressed the Bengals enough to select him in the fourth round.

Dorsch’s NFL career lasted all of one game, in which he punted five times for a 32.4 yard average. Dorsch was so unimpressive, that he was replaced by Nick Harris, who was so unimpressive, he only lasted halfway thru the following season before being replaced by Kyle Richardson, who himself was so unimpressive that he only lasted year before the Bengals brought in Kyle Larson. In other words, Dorsch was worse than the guy who was worse than the guy who was worse than Kyle Larson.

Kevin Huber

In 2009 the Bengals tried this whole "drafting a punter or kicker" thing again, when they selected Kevin Huber in the fifth round. Again, the Bengals decided not to wait until the seventh round, but unlike the previous two attempts, they got this one right. Apparently the third time is the charm!

Huber has held the punting duties for the Bengals over the last seven seasons, and is still going strong. He holds a career 44.8 yard average, and continually rates among the league’s better punters in net yardage, and percent of kicks inside the 20 yard line. In 2014 he was recognized for his excellent work with a Pro Bowl selection.

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Could 2016 signal another special teams draft pick? With the fewest draft picks the Bengals have had in nearly a decade, it seems unlikely.