The Cincinnati Bengals finally moved on from the dreadful kicking of Mike Nugent by signing Randy Bullock late last season. They took another step in the right direction by drafting a kicker, Jake Elliott, in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft. With Bullock still on the Bengals’ roster, and a strong competition for the starting kicking role underway, Elliott will need to show enough in the two remaining preseason games to prove the Bengals made the correct decision by making him the first kicker selected in the draft. Though, if he does in fact make the roster, he’ll need to continue proving it all season long and into the future.
Weight: 167 pounds
Hometown: Western Springs, IL
Draft Status: Fifth round pick in 2017
Elliott is signed to a four-year, $2,677,201 contract including a $277,201 signing bonus, $277,201 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $669,300. In 2017, Elliott will earn a base salary of $465,000 and a signing bonus of $277,201, while carrying a cap hit of $534,300 and a dead cap value of $277,201, according to Spotrac.
Elliott’s 445 points placed him in the top-10 all-time scorers in FBS college football for a kicker. He also finished his four year career at Memphis never having missed a single kick within 30 yards. He set a school record with 202 consecutive successful extra points. His career 445 points shot him past Memphis’ former scoring leader, Stephen Gostkowski, who scored 369 points as a Tiger. Elliott set Memphis records in every major kicking statistic with 445 points scored, 202 PAT attempts, 202 PAT’s made, 104 field goal attempts, 81 field goals made, and a career 77.9 field goal accuracy. He also made the four longest field goals in school history, with kicks made of 56, 54, 53, and 53 yards. He has a career kickoff distance of just less than 64 yards, and saw 210 of his 330 kickoffs go for touchbacks.
The Bengals have a track record of holding on to their drafted kickers, regardless of success, as illustrated by keeping Neil Rackers for three seasons, despite a 65.7% accuracy, and keeping Doug Pelfrey for seven seasons, despite failing to make more than 78 percent of his kicks for the Bengals. The Bengals also have a recent track record of holding on to bad kickers, regardless of success, as illustrated by Mike Nugent’s struggles in recent years, making only 80 percent of his field goal attempts, and missing an absurd seven extra point attempts during the last two seasons. The point is that even if Elliott struggles, he seems to have a fairly secure spot on the roster. The Bengals don’t cut their kickers, or draftees, and certainly not drafted kickers.
Elliott’s main competition for the Bengals’ kicking job is Randy Bullock. Bullock made a serviceable five of six kicks in three games with the Bengals at the tail end of the 2016 season, although he missed a game-winner against the Texans. Bullock is a threat for the job, but a minor threat at that, as he hasn’t made a 50 yard field goal in the regular season since 2014, and has bounced around five teams in five years. Bullock has done quite well in the preseason but Elliott hasn’t missed a kick in a preseason game either, and as a fifth round pick, the Bengals will want to put him on the roster, if at all possible.
As of now, he still has the edge due to not missing a field goal in the preseason, but it’s still possible Bullock takes the job considering how well he’s done, too.
Roster Odds: 90 percent.