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Vikings followers could be forgiven if that they had some wariness about drafting a kicker.
The Minnesota fan isn’t proof against pessimism and doubt. The information that Minnesota’s particular groups coordinator Matt Daniels was amongst those that attended a exercise for college kicker Chad Ryland may raise the blood pressure level for some.
In latest historical past, Minnesota has sought to fulfill their long-term kicking calls for by sinking a decide into the place. On condition that kickers can usually be had as UDFAs, it’s at all times notable when one makes it into the 7-round occasion.
Again in 2012, Rick Spielman opted for Blair Walsh within the sixth. For a short time, Walsh was glorious. His undoing was his brutal miss in opposition to the Seahawks within the 2015 playoffs; he by no means rebounded. He had a short stint with the Seahawks afterwards (together with a very weird sideline taunt when dealing with the Vikings within the preseason) however his profession ended following the 2017 season.
Undeterred, Spielman went again to the draft for an answer. Daniel Carlson was a Fifth-round choice in 2018. After we assess his accomplishments, we’ll see that he was an incredible decide. The 28-year-old was a first-team All Professional in 2022 and a second-team All-Professional in 2021. For the previous three seasons, Carlson has been above 90% for his area targets.
The difficulty? A minor one. It’s simply that he was lower after solely taking part in a pair of video games in Minnesota. A horrendous effort in Lambeau in Week 2 of the 2018 season led to Carlson being let go. He’s doing sensational work for LV as Minnesota retains working by means of their choices at kicker.
That was then and that is now. Minnesota now has a brand new sheriff on the town: Mr. Kwesi Adofo-Mensah. The younger GM has put in a brand new head coach and that coach has crammed out his employees. Initially, issues went fairly nicely (13-4, NFC North title).
An space that wants assist, although, is the particular groups.
Everybody likes ST coordinator Matt Daniels, so many have been reluctant to ship criticism in his path. However, it’s powerful to keep away from the truth that Minnesota’s particular groups merely weren’t superb final season. Glimpses of greatness acquired introduced down by a uninteresting punt return recreation, a step again for Kene Nwangwu, lapses in protection, and a few very inconsistent area purpose kicking.
These points apart, it appears just like the Vikings are a minimum of contemplating a kicker within the draft. In “The Beast” – a breathtakingly formidable mission from Dane Brugler of The Athletic – Ryland is available in because the second-best kicker. He will get a sixth/seventh designation, a fairly lofty evaluation for a specialist.
With solely 5 picks, Minnesota received’t be capable to go nuts by filling each want. Buying and selling down, after all, has the capability so as to add extra choices for Adofo-Mensah. In that situation, a late-rounder on kicker is less complicated to digest. At present, it might be a protracted shot.
In any other case, the crew shall be leaning on Greg Joseph who was introduced again on a 1-year deal that comes with a $2 million cap cost. Reducing the South African would go away behind $1.7 million in useless cash. In different phrases, a rookie would wish to clearly present he’s the higher choice.
Ryland, probably, might be that rookie. Oh, and the opposite kicker who will get assigned a draft grade in Brugler’s “Beast?” That’s Michigan’s Jake Moody. The younger kicker has a 4th/Fifth spherical grade hooked up to his identify.
We’ll see if Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Matt Daniels, and the remainder of Minnesota’s group go for particular groups assist earlier than the NFL Draft concludes.
Editor’s Word: Info from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.
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