Would the Bengals draft a kicker? Recent history says no

CINCINNATI -- Now that the Cincinnati Bengals are two weeks into free agency, they have a more accurate picture of how the roster will look heading into the 2017 draft.

We'll take a look at each position, how it changed in free agency and where it stands now.


Kicker: Randy Bullock, Jonathan Brown

Punter: Kevin Huber

Long-snapper: Clark Harris, Bryson Albright

Kick returner: Alex Erickson, Adam Jones

Departures: Rex Burkhead

State of the position: Could the Bengals draft a kicker in 2017?

The franchise has never drafted a kicker in the Marvin Lewis era, with Shayne Graham and Mike Nugent holding down the position for most of those years. The last kicker they drafted was Neil Rackers, who was selected in the sixth round in 2000.

Nugent was released late in the 2016 season after missing six extra points and six field-goal attempts. Bullock, his replacement, didn't exactly solidify his position but did do enough to be re-signed and compete in camp for a spot next season.

The Bengals didn't target any other veteran kicker in free agency. The only move they made was to sign former soccer standout Jonathan Brown to a futures contract, which means he will have an opportunity to compete in camp.

That leaves the draft.

Bengals player personnel director Duke Tobin didn't rule out the idea of taking a kicker with one of their 11 picks, although he did nix any idea of taking one with an early pick. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers traded up to get Robert Aguayo in the second round last year. That's not going to happen in Cincinnati.

The bigger question is if the Bengals draft a kicker at all. The Bengals have a lot of picks to play with, but they also have a history of giving their picks every chance to make the team.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, 40 out of the 44 picks in the Bengals' last five drafts completed their first season with the team, while three others made the practice squad the first season. Only one was waived before making the roster in his first season.

That means any kicker the Bengals draft would likely be taken with the intent he is almost virtually guaranteed to make the roster. Cincinnati would have to feel like it's a slam dunk pick.

There are no kickers rated as highly as Aguayo was in last year's draft, although Arizona State kicker Zane Gonzalez is probably the best of the lot.

The Bengals have pledged to look into every avenue to find a kicker, so the door wouldn't be completely closed on drafting one. If it's ever going to happen, this is one of the most wide-open years the Bengals have ever had at that position.

Brown has no NFL experience and Bullock missed a game-winning kick against the Texans. Neither has any contract guarantees.

However, if there's no can't miss-prospect in the draft, it seems the most likely move by the Bengals would be to find an undrafted kicker or bring someone in for a tryout in rookie minicamp, where he'd have to establish himself early.

The Bengals are unlikely to bring three kickers to training camp but will probably have a competition between two kickers all summer.

"I think we've got one or two guys in the barn that have a chance, and I think we're always going to be open at taking a look at another one until somebody proves they're the guy," Tobin said at the NFL combine. "We're going to look at kickers. We're going to be trying to find the next Justin Tucker. I don't know what we're going to do. We're going to look. A lot...

"And somebody is going to have to raise their hand and say it's me by making kicks, making big kicks, making preseason kicks. We don't want too many, because it's hard to work too many. But we want to have enough views of enough guys to where we go to camp with the ones we feel have a real chance."