Many football fans and draft analysts have criticized the Bengals’ decision to select Jake Elliott as the first kicker off the board in the 2017 NFL Draft. But, it seems the Bengals weren’t alone in their belief that Elliott is the No. 1 kicker option from this draft class.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote a pre-draft column ranking the top specialists in this year’s draft class, with help from anonymous scouts. In the ranking, Elliott comes in as the top kicker. The Bengals’ new kicker was a four-year starter at Memphis, the same college Stephen Gostkowski of the Patriots attended. And, Elliott broke many of the Patriots stud's records while in school.
Here’s a look at some of Elliott’s Memphis records and accolades:
- Memphis record-holder for consecutive PAT made with 202 straight
- All-time scoring record with 445 points (202 PAT/81 FG)
- Moved past Stephen Gostkowski (369 points) and DeAngelo Williams (362) to take the program’s all-time scoring mark.
- Most points by kicking
- Second player in program history to lead team in scoring in all four seasons with the team, joining kicker John Butler (1986-89) in that regard
- All-time kicking records for points kicking (445 points), PAT made (202), PAT attempts (202), FG made (81) and FG attempts (104)
- Ranks first in school history in FG percentage (77.9; 81-of-104)
- Holds school record for longest FG (56-yarder at USF in 2013)
- Kicked four of the five longest FG in program history, including the top four (56, 54, 53, 53)
McGinn had anonymous scouts weigh in on each of the top kickers, and here’s a look at what they had to say Elliott.
1. “Everybody’s got (Zane) Gonzalez No. 1 but I see Elliott as just a little bit better,” said one coach. “I just like his demeanor and his swing. I think it’s more repeatable than the other guy’s, but Gonzalez is a little bigger.
2. Everybody says Elliott doesn’t have as strong a leg but at the combine he beat (Gonzalez). His kickoffs are fine. He was the best kickoff guy at the combine.
3. He reminds me of the kid at Kansas City (Cairo Santos). He’ll have as good a career, if not better.” Playing for Lyons (Ill.) Township High School, his 52-yard FG at the buzzer won a homecoming game.
4. “The one hangup everybody has with him is his size,” said another coach. “Not a real big guy but the ball really jumps off his foot. He hits the ball hard often. What brings legitimacy to him is the start that Cairo Santos has had.”
It’s interesting that he received comparisons to Santos who has been excellent since joining the Chiefs out of Tulane in 2014. Bengals fans likely best remember Santos from his seven field goal game against Cincinnati in 2015, when the Chiefs were held to a field goal (at best) on every possession and Santos was perfect on the day (7/7 with a long of 51). Brandon Tate also scored a 55 yard touchdown in that game (just as a fun reminder).
Kansas City ranked sixth in the NFL in field goal percentage last year (88.6), though Santos did miss three extra points in 2016 (92.3%). The Bengals should be thrilled if they get that kind of production from Elliott in his rookie season, especially after the team had the 24th ranked kicking game in terms of percentage of field goals made in 2016.
It’s nice to see these comments, which were made before the draft, reinforce the idea Elliott was the draft’s best kicker. Now, we wait to see if he lives up to his billing.