A pair of collegiate kickers the Bengals should look into this offseason
After spending the past four seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals, it appears Randy Bullock’s time in the Queen City is up. The 31-year-old kicker had a disappointing 2020 campaign, converting on just 80.8% of his field-goal attempts. His misses not only spoiled last year’s home opener and Joe Burrow’s professional debut, but put the club in a bind a number of other times as well.
Head coach Zac Taylor eventually benched Bullock in week 14 in favor of Austin Seibert. However, Seibert didn’t perform much better. Out of the eight opportunities he received, two turned out to be misses. This, in addition to his performance with his prior team, the Cleveland Browns, likely indicates the Bengals will look elsewhere for a full-time kicker.
While the front office will undoubtedly scour the waiver wire and opposing team’s ranks, it’s unlikely an option significantly better than either Bullock or Seibert becomes available. That leaves the seventh round of the draft and the undrafted free agent market as the next best place to look.
Unfortunately for the Bengals, analysts don’t seem to have a consensus on the best kicker in this year’s draft. One quick glance at most pre-draft prospect rankings, and you won’t even find a player at the position listed in most cases.
That doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t kicker talent to be had. Former Florida Gator Evan McPherson certainly should have a case made for him. Throughout his three-year career in the SEC, he’s missed just a single extra point, going 149/150.
McPherson has also proven to be extremely reliable within 40 yards. Out of the 37 attempts within this range, he’s nailed 35 of them. The big question mark comes with anything further out.
While McPherson certainly has proven he has adequate leg strength, as evidenced by his career-high 55-yard field goal, he isn’t consistent beyond 40 yards out. He’s batting roughly 70% from that range, hitting 16/23 throughout his collegiate career.
While it is always ideal to have a kicker that can hit from the long ranges, the Bengals may simply have to deal with just getting somebody that can consistently make the easier kicks next season until they can find a better option.
The team proved to be highly efficient on fourth-down with Burrow under center anyways. In scenarios where they can kick a 40+ yard field goal or give Burrow another down to work with, they could be inclined to opt for the latter.
With any luck, special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons can put together a solid recruiting pitch and convince McPherson to join Bengals camp as an undrafted free agent. At the very least, Cincinnati would have a guy that can nail the chip shots, an aspect they lacked last year.
Jose Borregales should be on the Bengals’ radar as well
While McPherson offers close-range consistency, there’s another kicker out there that may have a higher upside: Jose Borregales of the Miami Hurricanes.
Borregales put together a solid campaign in his final year of college football. Not only did he hit all 37 of his extra points, but he also hit a 57-yard field goal, emphasizing some quality leg strength. He had a strong showing beyond 40-yards hitting 7/9 attempts between 40-49 yards, in addition to both of the 50+ yard field goals he attempted. Not to mention, he went 11/11 from within 40 yards as well.
The concerns with Borregales come from his previous three years with the Hurricanes. As a freshman he converted 83.3% of his field goals, followed by back-to-back campaigns with a conversion rate in the low 70’s.
This begs the question, did Borregales just finally put it all together as a Senior, or was it more of a lucky campaign? Either way, it’s another name to keep an eye on as the Bengals attempt to find a suitable kicker.