Could the Cincinnati Bengals Draft a Punter for the Second Year in a Row?

The Cincinnati Bengals need more production from their punter, and Darrin Simmons still has faith in Brad Robbins despite his rough rookie year.

INDIANAPOLIS — The NFL Combine didn’t become the behemoth it has because of a passion for scouting the next great punter. But it could be an important exercise for the Cincinnati Bengals this week.

The Bengals moved on from Kevin Huber, the franchise leader in career games played, in November of 2022. Less than a year later, they moved on from Huber’s replacement, Drue Chrisman, when they drafted Brad Robbins in the sixth round.

Could the Cincinnati Bengals Draft Another Punter?

Could a team that didn’t draft a punter from 2010-2022 do it in back-to-back seasons?

Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons wouldn’t rule it out.

“Anytime you have competition there, it brings out the best,” Simmons said. “That’s a little cliché thing. But yeah, I would think so.”

Simmons made it clear that he still believes in Robbins and thinks he can be the team’s punter for years to come and that looking for competition doesn’t mean he’s trying to find Robbins’ replacement.

What he’s looking for more than anything is more production.

“I think there’s certainly a lot of room for improvement for sure,” Simmons said. “He got off to about as rough a start as you could possibly get into. We play in the opener in Cleveland, and he punts 11 times. It’s in the rain, and it’s in a difficult place to punt in the first place. So, I mean, he got off to historically about the worst start you possibly could.”

“I think he evolved some,” Simmons added. “I certainly think there’s still a lot of meat left on the bone for him.”

Simmons pointed out that Robbins’ rookie season mirrored Huber’s, which statistically is true.

Huber averaged 43.2 yards per punt in 2009 with a 36.3 net average and 10 touchbacks.

Robbins had a 44.3 gross and 40.1 net with only five touchbacks.

“So I think I don’t want to overreact here,” Simmons said. “I think that’s part of my job is to help develop him and make him better. And so I think you can do that. I think he has the right mindset. But it’s certainly an area we got to get better at quick.”

As is the case with the way the Bengals are searching for a right tackle, the punter pool involves both rookies and veteran free agents.

But as is the case with everything the franchise does moving forward through the end of Joe Burrow’s contract, financial considerations will be paramount.

“There’s a lot of factors go into that,” Simmons said when asked about bringing in a veteran to battle Robbins in camp. “There’s the salary cap that we have to deal with, and sometimes in other years we haven’t had as much room to do that, or you have a potential for some savings by going the younger route if they have a chance to develop.”

“It’s easy to always say there’s a veteran player that’s available, and that’s easy for me to say, too,” he continued. “But sometimes that’s not always feasible for our team or what’s best for our team. I don’t know if that’s where we’re going to put some of our free agent or salary cap into a veteran player.

“There’s some guys out there that are potentially going to be available that are very interesting that could certainly help us. I think it’s just got to be an organizational decision on where we want to move that money to.”

KEEP READING: Will the Bengals’ Revolving Door at RT Stop Spinning in the Draft or Free Agency?

But Simmons kept coming back to the ideal scenario of Robbins putting his rookie year – which statistically was better than his final season at the University of Michigan – and coming back ready to make the job unmistakably his in 2024.

“It’s gonna be an evolution for him,” Simmons said. “I have a good feeling about him. I feel I feel that he’s in a good spot mentally. I think it was good for him for the season to be over and you can get away from and take a break yet. I told him he needs to get away from it, and he needs to let his leg rest, his mind rest, his body rest, and then let’s get back to work here before too long.”

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Why would you write a article about replacing your punter and not include names of the top options, both draft and veterans?

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