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Top 6 kickers for Bengals to consider in 2017 NFL Draft

The Bengals have made it clear Randy Bullock will have competition to retain his job as the team’s kicker. From where will that competition come?

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Arizona State Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals’ kicking position is in flux, to say the least, heading into the 2017 season. Long time kicker Mike Nugent was cut near the end of the 2016 season due to a series of critical missed field goals and extra points. He was replaced by former Texans draft pick Randy Bullock. However, Bullock didn’t exactly inspire loads of confidence as he missed his only attempt at a clutch field goal, against his former team, too.

One miss should not determine the Bengals’ entire opinion of their new kicker. But, it certainly isn’t a good look, especially when his accuracy has been one of the more noteworthy criticisms throughout the rest of his career.

The Bengals have made it clear that they are going to have a competition at the kicking position in 2017 and the team has already been looking at undrafted free agents (like Andrew Baggett) and meeting with draft prospects (like Zane Gonzalez of Arizona State).

Here’s a look at Mel Kiper’s top 6 prospects at kicker:

1. Zane Gonzalez (Arizona State)

College stats: 96/116 field goals made, 204/209 extra points made

Projected round, via CBS sports: 5-6

2. Austin Rehkow (Idaho)

College stats: 70/92 field goals made, 135/140 extra points made, 124 punts for 5,505 yards

Projected round, via CBS sports: 5-6

3. Jake Elliott (Memphis)

College stats: 81/104 field goals made, 202/202 extra points made

Projected round, via CBS sports: 6

4. Younghoe Koo (Georgia Southern)

College stats: 31/35 field goals made, 87/92 extra points made

Projected round, via CBS sports: Undrafted

5. Kenny Allen (Michigan)

College stats: 37/45 field goals made, 99/99 extra points made

Projected round, via CBS sports: 7

6. Harrison Butker (Georgia Tech)

College stats: 43/60 field goals made, 208/210 extra points made

Projected round: Undrafted

Given this list, the Bengals have a few interesting choices. Gonzalez and Elliott are both proven commodities who could solidify the kicking position for years to come. Furthermore, the Bengals don’t need a punter with Kevin Huber still relatively young and playing as well as anyone. But, both Austin Rehkow and Kenny Allen have punting experience. If something were to happen to Huber, it would be good to have an experienced kicker who can fill in.

Finally, there is the wild card prospect of Younghoe Koo, who Kiper lists as being better than Allen, but has very little experience to show for it. He only earned full starting duties in his senior season (2016). However, he is incredibly talented, as evidenced in this trick shot video from before the 2016 college football season.

Trick shots aren’t something NFL kickers have to face during the season, but the way the trick is setup could potentially simulate a mishandled snap during a game. Any kicker that can turn a mishandled snap into a sure field goal deserves accolades and consideration for a spot with an NFL team.

With 11 draft picks in the 2017 NFL Draft, selecting a kicker is a very real possibility. Though, it’s also possible the Bengals wait until after the draft to add more talent to the kicking position, which currently consists of Bullock and former soccer player Jonathan Brown.