The Bengals front office drafted Evan McPherson for a specific reason

Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Evan McPherson, Cincinnati Bengals. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals hit two homers in the 2021 NFL Draft: one of them was Ja’Marr Chase. The other is Evan McPherson.

At the time of the draft, the murmurs grew louder: Why on Earth would a team that went 4-11-1 the prior season use a fifth-round pick on a kicker?

One year later, that question is looking a bit silly.

In an alternate reality, that draft pick may have bitten them in the rear, as so many rookies tend to disappoint in the NFL because of the pressure and their lack of experience.

In this 2021 regular season and postseason, though, McPherson has become a team MVP — right up there with Burrow and Chase — and no one is doubting the Bengals’ decision now.

While McPherson posted solid enough numbers during the season, he’s been a clutch game-winning piece of Cincinnati’s offensive unit through the playoffs so far.

McPherson has scored 27 of the Bengals’ 45 points, making history with that memorable quote and even more memorable 52-yarder to knock out the Titans in the Divisional Round.

Drafting McPherson in the fifth round wasn’t a spontaneous move made by the Bengals out of thin air. Cincinnati wanted McPherson from the start, but the front office had to pull some strings first.

Cincinnati’s Director of Player Personnel, Duke Tobin, reflected on the team’s decision to draft McPherson in a recent conversation with Peter King of NBC Sports.

"“We definitely needed to fill in on both lines of scrimmage. But we also liked the kicker, because taking him would hopefully take us out of the grind cycle of manufacturing a kicker.”"

Cincinnati Bengals won’t look back on picking Evan McPherson in the fifth round

Special teams coordinator Darren Simmons approved taking McPherson based on his physical talents and precocious confidence, and Simmons’ support played a significant factor in the team’s draft process.

The Bengals were already set to take Ja’Marr Chase in the first round, but they also wanted to pick two offensive linemen and at least two defensive linemen early in the draft. To secure all those players and McPherson, Cincinnati needed extra picks, so they cut a deal with the New England Patriots to move down.

The Pats agreed to send their 46th pick and two fourth-round picks to the Bengals in return for Cincy’s 38th pick, allowing the Bengals to fill out their offensive and defensive lines before the fifth round.

McPherson was on the board at that time, and the rest is history. Tobin elaborates:

"“My dad told me in 1985, when he was with the Bears, they took a kicker in the fourth round who made a huge difference in their Super Bowl team that year. That kicker was Kevin Butler. So it’s not without precedent, taking a kicker and having him make a real difference in your team. We felt good about Evan being there in the fifth round for us, and the difference he could make for us.”"

As the Bengals prepare to face the Kansas City Chiefs en route to the Super Bowl, McPherson, along with a few other players, will be the ultimate difference-maker.

The rookie has made all of his kicks in tense playoff situations, and he’ll step up yet again in the AFC Championship game. No one’s talking about how he was picked 154th overall in the draft — they’re talking about his clutch moments, his steel nerves, and the cool moxie he brings to this Bengals squad.

Next. 3 winners, 3 losers from Bengals’ thrilling win vs. Titans in Divisional Round. dark

Winning runs through his veins.