There’s plenty to marvel at when it comes to how the Bengals were built, but their drafting in recent years is what really stands out. Cincinnati has been feasting by making bold moves in the draft with their unwavering belief in Joe Burrow, and selection of Ja’Marr Chase when Penei Sewell was on the board (which I’ll admit, I slammed last year).
One of the biggest head-scratchers when it came to the 2021 NFL Draft was taking kicker Evan McPherson in the fifth round. It was universally panned for a team that had so many more pressing needs. Fast forward 10 months and McPherson is one of the Cincinnati’s biggest difference makers. The Bengals are now the ones who are laughing.
The logic of drafting any kicker is dicey, at best. In the five years since 2016 a total of 10 placekickers have been drafted, and only one is still on the team that selected him. It’s often quipped that selecting a kicker is tantamount to making a pick for someone else, and it’s true. Even two of the best young kickers in the NFL, Harrison Butker and Matt Gay, didn’t catch fire until their second, and third teams respectively. Couple this with the fact that the Bengals made this mistake in 2017, selecting Jake Elliot in the fifth round only to now see him in Philadelphia, and it’s easy to see why taking a kicker while there were other needs became the butt of jokes.
With just a few days before the big game, McPherson finds himself with unprecedented hype. At DraftKings he ranks fifth in betting to win Super Bowl MVP. Just digest that for a second. A kicker is getting people to put their money on the line — and damn if McPherson isn’t worth it.
No team should have to rely on their kicker. It’s a sign an offense isn’t able to finish drives. But with the Bengals, McPherson has become a reliable extension of their offense, ensuring the team comes away with points, even if the offensive line collapses and Burrow isn’t able to make the big play.
With the aforementioned, elite Matt Gay in Los Angeles, it’s no wonder the Bengals and Rams are dead-even in points scored per game, and field goals attempted per…