*The drafting of Jake Elliott kicks off a training camp competiton with veteran Randy Bullock. *
The Bengals do it about once every decade and they did it Saturday when they drafted a kicker.
Memphis' Jake Elliott became their highest drafted pure placekicker when he went with their first pick in the fifth round and surprised many that Lou Groza Award winner Zane Gonzalez of Arizona State wasn't the first kicker chosen.
The 5-9, 167-pound Elliott has never missed a field goal inside 31 yards while passing Patriots Pro Bowler Stephen Gostkowski as the school's all-time leading scorer. He's 78 percent on accuracy, has a long of 56 yards, and four of the five longest kicks at 56, 54, 53, and 53.
Elliott said he and Gostkowski have a good relationship, and the two even talked Saturday after the selection came down.
"I actually just got off the phone with him," Elliott told reporters in a conference call. "He's kind of been a mentor for me along the way a little bit. He's just another guy I can reach out to and offer me any kind of advice I need."
Elliott is the Bengals' first drafted kicker since Neil Rackers was taken in the seventh round in 2000 and is going to be in their first full-scale kicking battle in the Marvin Lewis Era with Randy Bullock supplying the veteran competition.
The Bengals drafted Purdue punter-kicker Travis Dorsch in the fourth round in 2002.
On kickoffs, 210 of Elliott's 330 kicks (63.6 percent) were touchbacks. And as Bengals special teams coach Darrin Simmons noted Saturday, that's what set him apart from other prospects.
"The thing that really showed up with him was the kickoffs," Simmons said. "The kickoffs pushed him above those other three guys. The kickoffs are fantastic. He can drive the ball up in the air for hang time, he can drive it downfield for touchbacks. He can do it all with kickoffs."
Later in the round they took Utah center JJ Dielman, a three-year right tackle before moving to center as a senior. The 6-4, 309-pound Dielman missed the NFL Scouting Combine because of a season-ending foot injury. Ourlads Scouting Services thinks Dielman may be able to play all five spots: "A sixth or seventh lineman on a zone scheme squad."
"Dielman will fit in with the guys we have," said assistant head coach/offensive line coach Paul Alexander. "He's a big, tough, physical, smart guy that has a passion for football. He can play center, he can play guard, and he played a little tackle at Utah. He's a versatile guy."
Dielman played only five games his senior season due to a broken foot suffered against California that ended his 2016 campaign. He started every game at right tackle for the Utes as a sophomore and junior, earning second-team All-Pac 12 honors his junior season.
"He can play center, he can play guard, and he played a little tackle at Utah," Alexander added. "He's a versatile guy."
Dielman had surgery on Oct. 6, less than a week after his injury, but said Saturday he feels healthy enough to take part in next week's rookie minicamp. That decision, though, Dielman said will be left to the Bengals' medical staff.
"I'm feeling as close to 100 percent as any player in this draft can be," he said. "I'll be in contact with the training staff in Cincinnati and seeing what they think. But as of right now I feel great. I feel like I'm ready to play ball. But if that's not the smartest decision to be ready by the season, we'll move forward from there."