The Bengals aren't lying when they say the club is looking to upgrade and find a suitable option for the kicker role in 2017. After a tumultuous 2016 season for the team at the position (and overall), finding a trustworthy kicker for the future is of the utmost importance.
The current kicker roster includes Randy Bullock who finished off the 2016 season with the Bengals, and missed his only big kick, a 43-yard attempt that would have won the Bengals their game against the Texans. Jonathan Brown is also on the roster, but he's never kicked an in-game NFL or even college field goal, and is more noted for his soccer than football experience.
Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin said last week the Bengals will look at all available options to find "the next Justin Tucker" and it seems the club is doing just that.
In recent weeks, the Bengals worked out former Missouri Tigers kicker Andrew Baggett. Baggett had an up-and-down career at Missouri. In his senior season, he made 80 percent of his field goals, with a long of 41. He also made two field goals from 50+ yards in 2014, his junior season.
Baggett had a breakout game in the 2016 NFLPA Bowl, in which he made six field goals and accounted for all of the National team's points. But, that wasn't enough for him to be drafted in 2016. The Browns ended up signing him following the draft, but Patrick Murray won the Browns' kicker job until he went down with an injury and Cody Parkey took over for the rest of the season.
But, Baggett has a massive leg, even if he wasn't able to show it off enough in college. He's been training with Kohl's Professional Kicking Camp, under the direction of Owner/Operator Jamie Kohl, and having worked with hundreds of kickers (including 2016 second round draft pick Roberto Aguayo), Kohl believes Baggett has what it takes to make it at the NFL level.
"I know what a Pro Bowler and Super Bowler and free agent who makes it look like," Kohl said. "He has the talent to compete with most anybody who's ever been on the same field with him. He's a guy I think most fans would cheer for because they see someone who's truly on the street right now and in a couple of months he could be winning NFL games if he finds the right situation. He has the consistency NFL teams require."
Baggett took part in a recent elite camp put on by Kohl's Kicking Camp and he won a field goal competition in which most of the other kickers were Division I players looking to make it in the NFL. He kicked a 70-yard field goal (see the video above) and just missed on a 75-yard attempt to win the challenge. He also was able to nail a 90-yard kickoff on that same day.
"This year, he's continued to train and in my mind, he's the best free agent prospect we have and I feel he's better than some guys currently with NFL teams," Kohl said. "He just needs an opportunity to compete."
Maybe the Bengals will be the team to give him the opportunity he's seeking.
"The only way to prove you're an NFL kicker is to do it day in and day out," Kohl said. "On a weekend when the NFL Combine is going on, and everyone's showing physical attributes, he has those physical attributes, and it's just a matter of someone giving him a chance."