In the middle of day three of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals continued to fill needs with quality players. And for the first time in the Marvin Lewis era, a kicker was actually drafted by the Bengals.
At pick 153, the Bengals selected kicker Jake Elliott out of Memphis. 23 selections later, the Bengals took center J.J. Dielman from Utah with the 176th pick.
What Elliott brings to the Bengals
Consistent accuracy: In his college career, Elliott was 46 for 54 on kicks inside 40 yards, and never missed one of his 202 extra points. Even though the college game still uses the old fashioned extra point distance, the consistency is still impressive. Elliott was all-AAC first team for all four years he was at Memphis, and besides a less than stellar sophomore year, he never finished a season with a field goal percentage under 80%.
Long-distance potential: In that aforementioned sophomore season, Elliott was 6-16 from beyond 50 yards. In his freshman, junior and senior years, he was 29 for 34 from 50 yards or more. Assuming that sophomore year was a fluke, Elliott brings the accurate big leg to the Bengals special teams unit that Mike Nugent nor Randy Bullock ever had.
What Dielman brings to the Bengals
Inside and outside versatility: In his 31 career starts at Utah, Dielman played 26 at right tackle, and then played the final five games of his career at center. His 32 1/4” arms and 78 1/8” wingspan project him as an inside guy only in the NFL, but he has experience playing on the edge if they need him too.
Emergency/long-term depth: The Bengals figure to already have their starting five offensive lineman already locked in place, and the backups at that spot are established as well. Dielman doesn’t figure to play any snaps this year ala last year’s fifth round pick Christian Westerman (if he even makes the final roster), but with his experience snapping the ball, he has a chance to see time at center if Russell Bodine and T.J. Johnson experience injury issues this season.
Why picking Elliott makes sense
The fifth-round is earlier than when we typically see the first kicker go off the board, but it was by far one of the Bengals’ most pressing needs this offseason, so it was refreshing to see them address the position earlier than expected with so many picks later in the draft to fill out the roster. Elliott comes into the special teams room with a guaranteed contract as an actual draft pick, and Bullock carries no guaranteed money on his, so expect Elliott to get every chance to uphold his spot as the team’s kicker.
And as long as Elliott avoids a Roberto Aguayo-type start to his career, kicking can go from a weakness to a strength in 2017.
Why picking Dielman makes sense
After losing two starting offensive lineman in free agency, the Bengals scrambled to put the line back together with the retainment of Eric Winston and the addition of Andre Smith back in the fold. But their depth at every position on the line is still spotty and Dielman at the very least is a body who can compete for a spot in camp. With so many other draft picks who can make the roster, it’s possible that Dielman is a candidate for the practice squad. With Bodine and Johnson as their only experienced centers on the roster, taking a player like Dielman is reasonable here, late in the fifth round.