How Patriots helped Bengals land clutch rookie kicker in 2021 NFL Draft

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The Cincinnati Bengals are going to the AFC Championship Game for the first time since 1988 thanks to rookie kicker Evan McPherson.

Sure, star quarterback Joe Burrow and rookie wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase both made several clutch plays in Saturday's AFC Divisional Round playoff game against the Tennessee Titans, but McPherson scored 13 of Cincinnati's points 19 points, including a game-winning 52-yard field goal as time expired.

The Bengals were able to acquire McPherson -- the only kicker drafted in 2021 -- because they addressed other needs before taking him in the fifth round. They were able to address those roster issues with the extra picks received in a draft day trade with the New England Patriots.

NBC Sports' Peter King, in his Monday morning column, explained how that trade with the Patriots helped the Bengals land McPherson.

"Go back to draft weekend. The Bengals did like McPherson, who came out a year early from Florida and the team scouted heavily," King writes. "Special team coordinator Darren Simmons gave his seal of approval, which was big in the eyes of draft czar and director of player personnel Duke Tobin. They liked McPherson’s physical gifts and his moxie. But the team wanted to draft at least two offensive linemen and two defensive linemen (and maybe a third) in the draft, and they knew they were going to pick Ja’Marr Chase. To get Chase, the kicker (no sure thing if they didn’t deal for extra picks) and the linemen, they needed extra picks. 'We definitely needed to fill in on both lines of scrimmage,' Tobin recalled from Cincinnati on Sunday. 'But we also liked the kicker, because taking him would hopefully take us out of the grind cycle of manufacturing a kicker.'

"The Bengals had the 38th overall pick in the second round. Tobin wanted to move down. He engaged with New England, picking 46th. The Patriots agreed to send pick 46, plus two fourth-round picks (122 and 139) to Cincinnati for the 38th pick. That’s a hefty sum, but only a slight overpayment per the note draft-trade value chart. But the trade allowed the Bengals to pick two offensive tackles and three defensive linemen by the time the fifth round began."

The trade worked out pretty well for both teams. 

Barmore has turned into one of the biggest steals of the entire 2021 draft so far. He played a key role in the Patriots' pass rush and run defense as one of the best defensive rookies in the league. Barmore projects to be an important piece of New England's defense for many years.

Drafting kickers is often a bad idea, but the Bengals did their homework on McPherson and have been rewarded quite a bit. They'll need another excellent performance from him Sunday if the Bengals are going to have any chance of upsetting the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game.

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