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Evan McPherson could be the Bengals’ x-factor

An accurate kicker with a powerful leg could be the difference in close contests, a huge factor for a team still learning how to win.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals Rookie Minicamp Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

With all due respect to Randy Bullock, it’s been a while since the Cincinnati Bengals have had a kicker fans could get excited about.

Rookie Evan McPherson is exactly what the doctor ordered.

The 21 year old out of Florida not only has a huge leg but also astonishing accuracy.

We all saw the amazing clip of him knocking the cap off a bottle up on a rail at Florida’s practice facility.

Evan McPherson

Height: 5-11

Weight: 185

Age: 21

College: Florida

Hometown: Fort Payne, AL

Experience: rookie

Cap Status

McPherson signed a 4-year, $3,823,712 rookie deal with the Bengals. He is set to earn $660,000 in base salary this year.

Background

As a senior at Fort Payne High School, nailed a 60-yard field goal and sent a punt flying 84 yards. He then went to Florida in 2018 and snatched the starting job as a true freshman. He tied for the sixth best field goal percentage (89.5) and went a perfect 50 of 50 on extra points. McPherson also had 45 touchbacks on just 81 kickoffs. In 2019, he achieved the same field goal percentage (89.5) while missing just one extra point attempt. But he upped his touchback percentage, forcing returners to remain in the endzone 51 times on 80 kickoffs. And last year, he was still a solid 17-of-22 on field goals (77.3%). Most impressively, he made four field goals from 50 or more yards with a high of 55 yards.

During his three-year college career, McPherson set an SEC record for career field-goal percentage and a school record for successful kicks over 50 yards. He ended up connecting on 149 of his 150 extra point attempts and 51 of his 60 field goal tries.

McPherson deservedly entered the 2021 NFL Draft as the best kicking prospect of his class and, sure enough, he was the first kicker selected. Actually, he was the only kicker drafted. But considering the value he brings to Cincinnati, the pick was entirely justified.

Outlook for 2021

McPherson is a welcome addition to a team trying to change its (losing) culture. He can dazzle and strike from long range. He can stick kickoffs where returners have no chance. He will be the centerpiece of a special teams unit coached by one of the best in the business, Darrin Simmons. While there’s no guarantee McPherson will actually pan out in the NFL, it is highly likely that he will and that he will make an impact.

Last year, the Bengals lost five games by five or fewer points and tied against the Philadelphia Eagles. Having a guy who can connect from 50+ yards consistently could go a long way toward helping a young offense close out games. Expect McPherson to be a big factor for the team this year.

Roster Odds

95%. He’d be a lock considering his upside and draft position (149th overall pick), but then again, we all remember when the Bengals cut Jake Elliot just months after drafting him in the fifth round. Elliot, of course, went on to win the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles.