The Cincinnati Bengals’ kicking game was at an all-time low last season.
Mike Nugent performed so poorly that nearly every football fan in the nation knew what an issue he was for Cincinnati. After six missed field goals and six missed extra points, heavily contributing to losses (and a tie game) Nugent was cut loose and the Bengals signed Randy Bullock in his place. In Bullock’s only big-kick situation, he too missed the kick and caused the Bengals to lose a Christmas Eve primetime matchup with the Texans. The Bengals’ offense played terribly in that game, but, Bullock could have won the game with a last-second, 43-yard field goal, but instead, he choked.
(In hindsight, it’s better that Bullock missed the kick as that loss was the difference between drafting inside or outside of the top 10 in 2017, and either way, the Bengals still would have missed the playoffs...)
Bullock was re-signed this offseason, but, he has no guaranteed money on his contract and the Bengals can cut ties with him whenever they’d like.
Enter Jake Elliott, the first kicker selected in the 2017 NFL Draft. The Bengals are hoping Elliott can solve the team’s issues at the kicking position and be a long-term answer for Cincinnati on the special teams unit.
Conor Orr of NFL.com ranked the top 10 Day 3 draft picks who can make an immediate impact in the NFL, and coming in at No. 5 on the list was Elliott.
Jake Elliott, kicker, Cincinnati Bengals (Memphis)
A given, seen that the Bengals would likely not waste a fifth-round pick on a camp leg. Cincinnati finished with just an 82.9 percent efficiency rate on extra points last year, thanks mostly to five straight games with a missed extra point by Mike Nugent, who is now a free agent. Elliott was a perfect 202/202 on (shorter) extra points in college with a 77.9 percent field goal rate (80.8 percent his senior year).
Elliott will be competing with Bullock and former soccer player Jonathan Brown to earn the Bengals’ kicking job this year. The Bengals have said they want to have a true competition this spring, where the best player earns the job. We can only hope that Elliott proves to be the best player for the job, ends the Bengals’ streak of bad kicker selections in the draft, and helps turn around the roster to a playoff and Super Bowl contender moving forward.